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The purposes of school history

Some criticisms of the ‘school history to develop national pride’ approach:

‘Textbooks in American history stand in sharp contrast to the rest of our schooling. Why are they so bad? Nationalism is one of the culprits. Their contents are muddled by the conflicting desires to promote inquiry and indoctrinate blind patriotism… The difference begins with their titles: “The Great Republic”, “The American Way”, Land of Promise”, “Rise of the American Nation”.  Such titles differ from all other text books students read in high school or college. Chemistry books are called “Chemistry or “Principles of Chemistry”, not “The Rise of the Molecule”.

James W. Loewen (2008) Lies my teacher told me, introduction: 3.
‘None of the facts is memorable, because they are presented as one damn thing after another. While they include most of the trees and all too many twigs, authors forget to give readers a glimpse of what they might find memorable, the forests.  Textbooks stifle meaning as they suppress causation. Therefore students exit them without developing the ability to think coherently about social life.’ James W. Loewen (2008) Lies my teacher told me, introduction: 3.
‘It would be nice if Mr Kenneth Baker recreated a more truthful patriotic history. If we just go back to national self-glorification, to painting the map red, history will be in danger of becoming a plaything of party politics, to be changed with a change of government. A little self-examination is in order.’ Christopher Hill (1989) Guardian, 29 May.

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