Re-thinking History: Improving History Textbooks in America

753 Words 4 Pages
Since introducing his book with the notion that high school students hate history, Loewen (1996) devotes a considerable amount of his work debunking facts and theories taught in history classes in American schools. He appeals to the trust of the readers with his comparisons on what textbooks include and what they omit. He accomplishes this by recounting some sparse facts taught in most textbooks, appealing to the emotions of all former, current and future history students with his empathy on how boring most history textbook. Finally, he reaches the logic of his readers with heavily pocked paragraphs footnoted with his sources that presume his great understanding of the history itself.
The scope and size of history textbooks is an issue
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Fourteen paragraphs list various theories relating to how the Pilgrims voyage landed them in Plymouth as opposed to the existing Jamestown settlement, or any other location. Loewen blatantly appeals to a reader’s emotions with language intended to draw outrage over these shortcomings. A reader might safely assume that a movement among scholars actively exists to revise history textbooks. If textbooks have omitted so many details about history, then a reader could wonder how Loewen could state that “all too many twigs” (para 14) have been included yet insists that textbooks omit so many details, or “twigs.”
In this introductory passage, Loewen lists 57 sources in footnotes supporting his opinion, ranging from published textbooks, articles in reputable periodicals, to children’s bulletins, and even the tale of Goldilocks. Paragraph 34 poses the question, “How did the Pilgrims wind up in Massachusetts when they set out for Virginia?” While Loewen doesn’t share which theory he would prefers, he does list various convincing sources to support many theories:
28 Even though “Virginia” then included most of New Jersey, the Mayflower nonetheless landed hundreds of miles northeast. Historians who support the “on purpose” theory includes George F. Willison, Saints and Strangers (New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1945); Lincoln Kinnicutt, “The Settlement at Plymouth Contemplated before 1620,” Publications of the American…