View history anewAccording to Jim Loewen, history is the only field in which the more courses students take, the stupider they become.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
According to Jim Loewen, history is the only field in which the more courses students take, the stupider they become.
“Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat the eleventh grade,” he wrote in his 1995 book, “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” which focuses on the failings of American history textbooks.
The sociologist, educator and author will give a free public presentation, “The Most Important Era in U.S. History That You Never Heard of, and Why It’s Important Today,” from 7-8:30 p.m. Friday at the Superior High School Performing Arts Center. The event is funded by a federal Teaching American History grant.
“I believe his ‘style’ of presenting will appeal to members of the public who may have a strong interest in history and how history is done, but aren’t as interested in the fine particulars of a specific subject,” said Ashland history teacher Rick Whiting, who applied for the grant with Superior High School teacher Kyle Smith. “Dr. Loewen makes the audience think about what it is in an event that makes that event worth remembering.”
Other teachers who participated in the grant workshops over the past three years had requested Loewen as well, Smith said.
“We’re very excited he was available,” said the SHS history teacher. The grant brought together teachers from 16 area districts including Duluth, Superior, Ashland, Solon Springs and Cloquet. They studied the Revolutionary War and early America in 2010, the Civil War in 2011 and the Great Depression and World War II in 2012. The multi-year grant allowed them to learn from big name historians like Gary Gallagher, Joan Waugh and Gary Nash.
“These are the ‘rock stars’ of our profession,” Whiting said. But they also heard from high school teachers and other college professors with a strong passion for teaching who offered content and delivery ideas.
One of the biggest benefits, participants said, was how the learning connected local history teachers, allowing them to share with each other.
“I believe most of the participants would echo my belief that their participation has resulted in their students having better educated, better prepared, more confident, and more enthusiastic teachers,” Whiting said.
Although Loewen’s book came out in 1995, textbooks today contain many of the same misinformation. That makes original-source work, personal research and critical thinking important skills to cultivate when delving into history. Loewen will speak to the teachers during a workshop Saturday before their grant is, well, history. But first, the public is invited to join the discussion Friday at SHS.
“The public presentation is an excellent way to help the general public understand the types of questions teachers of history in their school districts grapple with daily,” Whiting said. “Dr. Loewen does an excellent job of helping people to understand and contemplate the ‘making’ of history, and the implications for how history is then taught.”