This class has been a huge eye opener for me. Since starting this class I have learned more about our American history than I did in my high school years. I learned that there is a lot of important information about our history that gets left out of our education for many reasons. Reasons ranging from religion, race, and just because we don’t want to portray America in a bad light. The first thing I learned about was our history textbooks and the mistruths, lies and cover-ups they contained. “Textbooks also keep students in the dark about the nature of history. (Loewen, 5) From ever since I can remember, I never learned to question our history books. I always assumed that if it was in our history book that it was correct and that we just had to learn facts about history, which made it boring. “The teaching of history, more than any other discipline, is dominated by textbooks. And…textbooks are boring. ”(Loewen, 2) Also our “Textbooks encourage students to believe that history is facts to be learned…because textbooks employ such a godlike tone, it never occurs to most students to question them,”(Loewen, 5)
I learned the truth about Christopher Columbus and how he was not the first to discover the new world and he is not the hero we are taught to cherish from and early childhood. His main reason for sailing to the new world was for riches and only for him self. Christopher Columbus was responsible for enslaving, torturing, and killing the Native Americans by the millions. Columbus is ultimately responsible for the first ever documented genocide.
I also learned that the new world wasn’t barley populated by the Native Americans, but there were as many as a 100 million Indians, which were pretty much wiped out by foreign diseases that were purposely introduced by the settlers. “Huge numbers of Indians would die from diseases introduced by the whites. ” (Zinn, 16) We also never learn that the Indians were hunted, murdered, and made into slaves. I remember learning that the Native American’s were savages and were not very smart.
When in fact they were very intelligent race that developed sophisticated structures like the pyramids, which are still studied to this day. Also they were able to live off the land and develop new crops. “They ingeniously developed a variety of other vegetables and fruits, as well as peanuts and chocolate and tobacco and rubber. ” (Zinn, 18) I got to learn about the truths behind the American revolutionary war and the civil war. Zinn tells us about how our founding fathers helped get these wars started. I learned about the effects of the war on Native American people and the Slaves as well as all low-income family’s. Governments including the government of the United States are not neutral… They represent the dominant economic interests, and their constitutions are intended to serve these interests. ” (Zinn, 98) The war was not fought so that we could all of equal rights. The Indians and slaves did not get their freedom and the settlers did not get the lands they were promised. We learn about how anti-racism and racism in our history books were not taught to us and how this subject was dumb down and we were not taught the truths behind them. There was no slavery in history, even that of the Israelites in Egypt, worse than the slavery of the black man in America. ” (Zinn, 180) The history books were written in the way of making America look like the good guys, and never teaching about America’s mistakes. So why does history get taught to us in this way? The history book publishers purposely lie because they are trying to use history to help build love for America and build up patriotism in our children. If we were taught the truth about what happened in America and how this nation was formed, it would get in the way of us becoming patriotic about our country America. Textbooks exclude conflict or real suspense. They leave out anything that might reflect badly upon national character. ” (Loewen, 2) The publishers back this up by stating that they are trying to shield our children from all the harsh and brutal truths of America. They rather the students wait until they are in college to learn the truths, which is sometimes to late. Most students never go on to study history in college so all the truths and facts end up going unlearned. I learned a lot of information about our history in this class that I never knew.
We should go on to learn about both sides of all of Americas events and get the students more involved in discussions, like we have with this class. History to me was always just learning facts “Textbooks encourage students to believe that history is facts to be learned…because textbooks employ such a godlike tone, it never occurs to most students to question them,”(Loewen, 5) Now that I have been in this class I have learned to question and discuss everything about our history which in turn has made our history way more interesting to study.