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Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History (Multicultural Education Series) Paperback – October 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0807749913 ISBN-10: 0807749915 Edition: Multicultural Education Series

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Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History (Multicultural Education Series) + Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong + A People's History of the United States
Price for all three: $43.77

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Product Details

  • Series: Multicultural Education Series
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Teachers College Press; Multicultural Education Series edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807749915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807749913
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 7.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James W. Loewen is the bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America. He taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont and gives workshops for teacher groups around the United States. He has been an expert witness in more than 50 civil rights, voting rights, and employment cases.

More About the Author

James W. Loewen is the bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America. He is a regular contributor to the History Channel's History magazine and is a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Vermont. He resides in Washington, D.C.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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His writing style is easy to follow, humorous, insightful, and very informative.
Spencer
I think if your child is having a hard time wanting to learn history, this should be your go to book.
R. King
Both are problematic, although his main point-- that bad textbooks are boring-- is indisputable.
Constant Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Ann M. Clark on December 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Loewen proves again why traditional tesxtbook publishers hate him so much. His insights into the problems of teaching history are spot on. Reliance on a textbook is relying on a very limited and deficient weapon. The key is that a real teacher of history needs to be constantly reading, articles, books, editorials, et al, to provide their students with a true history education. History is the easiest subject to teach badly and the hardest subject to teach well. Take the time and do it well.
Kevin Clark
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Roman on August 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow, some other reviewers have an ax to grind, but I am not sure why they pick on Mr. Loewen to do so. The book is a thoughtful (although sometimes polemic) presentation on why teachers should teach the process of how history is written as well and cover meaningful content. This is in contrast to the "laundry list" style of teaching that most history classes consist of. Loewen argues for more thoughtful and deliberate units that call for analysis and connections between concepts. He asks teachers to ask "Why am I teaching this?" in order for them to be able to communicate to students the significance of the material they are studying.

I did not see any "America hate" in the book. What I see is a passion for history and a call for meaningful and thoughtful history education.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Eric R. Johnston on August 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book that provides a lot of creative solutions to common problems in the diversity of education. For example, he offers the idea of having students study secondary sources about the same topic, but written in different eras, and compare them as a way to learn that history is a reflection of the time in which it is written.

This book is also very informative, whether the topic is problems in archaeology or problems in race relations, I learned a lot.

The final thing I want to say is this book is a very easy, very fast read. The text looks dense, but I assure you, it is only an illusion.
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61 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Constant Reader on February 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is partly an attack on how history is taught at the high school level and partly a rewriting/explanation of the six areas that teachers get wrong most often. Both are problematic, although his main point-- that bad textbooks are boring-- is indisputable. (His constant mentioning of his own previous book as the antidote certainly made it clear what he thought a good one looks like!) I'll admit I was surprised at the statistics on how few high school teachers had taken history classes, until I looked in the footnotes and found the number was from 20 years ago-- they've changed the standards since then, actually. Eventually I found myself reading with one finger in the back so I could see how old & outdated his information was, point by point, although I appreciate that there were footnotes at all.
Some of his points seem well-argued, others are odd (his argument that you should not teach anything you don't understand, for instance-- he doesn't teach the Progressive Era, apparently-- why wouldn't you go learn about it if it's your job to teach history?), and still others are just silly-- I have a PhD, and, while I love to see my students learn about history, they don't immediately know more than me when they start learning (if they did, I'd want my money back from my grad school!)
The part of secession was interesting, and there he quotes to back up his argument, but the facts start getting very funky toward the end of this book. The final chapter presents an argument for a periodization of American history that features "The Nadir," supposedly the low-point of race relations, dating from 1890-1940.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C Michael Torres on April 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having recently earned a masters degree in History my perspective is that this excellent book should be required reading for all students preparing to be social studies instructors. Great content, well organized and for "history nerds" like me, a compelling read. What it is not, is a sequel to "Lies My Teacher Told Me" though it makes good sense to read both books thoroughly. There is a strong emphasis on Historiography and why it so important in the study of our nation's and world's past.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rich6183 on March 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
I have always found Loewen's books to be deeply ironic, as he objects to the kinds of patriotic "master narratives" that celebrate American history, which I applaud when it's true. Loewen then, however, constructs a new master narrative, equally flat and boring, that castigates the history. Worst of all, he claims that this new narrative will get students to really think about and "do" history -- but can anyone really doubt to what Loewen wants students to think and to what conclusions he is leading them and their teachers? He does not actaully want people to think for themselves; he wants them to think as he does.

Good history teaching asks authentic, open-ended questions that lead students into the complexity of understanding the past, and into real debates about the motivations and understandings of people who lived in a world that was unlike ours, and who lived history as their current events. Loewen's approach is simply a photographic negative of the kinds of textbooks and teaching that he deplores, rightly, as didactic and boring. The result is a new narrative that is just as repetitive in its story and inevitable in its conclusions. He is an advocate, not a teacher or historian, either by credentials or by temperament.
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