RE: Favorite NON-fiction  

Chris Olson - SunPS Chrisf.Olson at Sun.COM
Mon Jan 27 14:34:50 PST 2003

> How is this different, fundamentally, from the Chris Columbus stories?   I
> don't think it's worthwhile to claim that the baby history we learned in
> grade school is all lies because it wasn't concerned with anything more than
> giving us a framework of dated events to hang later learning on any more
> than we should call the Algebra II teacher that showed you how to look up
> the sine of an angle in a table or on your calculator was lying.
> The key is that in _any_ discipline there is much more to learn.  For
> everyone.
> The lie is telling yourself otherwise.

Hmm...  I'm not sure if I agree.  Regarding history and
what teachers tell us, it's not enough to say that "Christopher
Columbus discovered America in 1492", and then go on to tell of all
the good things he did, while not mentioning any of the negative
things he did or brought about.

Sure, there is more to learn about any subject; I'll agree to that.
But what is told about subjects is just as important as understanding
that there is more to learn.  Focusing attention only on aspects of
history that paint a good light on people we want in such a light,
or only on aspects of history that show our country in a good light,
does nothing for raising conscious awareness of history; it only forces
us all to think and believe in a way others want us to think and

As a for instance, I was completely unaware of many aspects of Columbus'
life, and would NEVER have known about them if I had not done my own
research into it.  No teacher ever told me "We're only giving you the
highlights, and only telling you the good stuff.  If you want to learn
about the stuff we're not telling you, look elsewhere."

Also, I am not referring solely to grade school.  I'm concerned with
high school and college as well.  

I'll also admit that, though I enjoyed "Lies My Teacher Told Me", an
argument could be made that they are not "lies".  However, there are
lies given to us in history, or "un-truths" if you want (I am AFB at
the moment, so can't give examples.  If'n you want them, I'll grab the
book next time I'm at home) that are simply blatent, and usualy have
a motive that does not concern itself with history as a science.

Beyond that, what we teach our children about our past is VERY important,
as it can influence our future.  And, of course, what we *don't* tell
our children about our past is just as important as what we do tell them.

I'd rather see a history class that tells many aspects of history, rather
than just a couple facts banged into our heads.

(Ok, this one's a bit long.  Sorry.  We hit on one of those subjects
for which I'm an arrogant, stubborn bastard....;)

"He is a lover of his country who rebukes and does
not excuse its sins." - Frederick Douglass