In K-12 Schools
Teaching with Lies My Teacher Told Me and Teaching What Really Happened is much more fun than just plugging away at the textbook.
One reason why U.S. history gets liked least is because it is more dominated by the textbook than any other course. This is astounding and unfortunate, because textbooks are so bad, so boring, and so big that many classrooms just read them – nothing else!
If you or your school district has the autonomy, don’t adopt any of the 800-1,300 page textbooks. Instead, consider one of these. Then supplement with solid web sources, setting students forth to “do” history themselves, critical books like Lies My Teacher Told Me, etc. Students will grow much more involved than if they just slog through the textbook.
In the olden days – say, 1990 – students in small towns had few resources for learning history. Today, with the web, hundreds of thousands of photographs are available just at the Library of Congress. Historic newspapers from every state are on line. The U.S. Census is there, including this page from Indiana, showing the astonishing absence of African Americans from small towns. So there is no excuse for producing, let alone adopting, our ponderous 1,152-page history textbooks.
This happy student became a finalist in the National History Day “exhibits” competition. Sixth graders in Springfield, IL, prompted a new “Race Riot Walking Tour.” Middle-school students in Ohio did award-winning local research on sundown towns for National History Day. A lawyer in DE researched the “Reverse Underground Rail Road” and got two new state historical markers erected to tell about it. You can too! If you’re a teacher, so can your students!
Teachers’ Corner is a moderated discussion about using Lies My Teacher Told Me and Teaching What Really Happened in the classroom. If you’ve used these materials with your students, let us know. If you are thinking of using these materials, see what others have done.