Previous WHY? Radio Shows

If you missed an episode, check out our archived episodes below!

Click on the episode name for more information, audio files, and discussion boards.


Episode 42:
"Lies My Teacher Told Me:
Revisiting A Classic Critique of How We Teach History to Children."
James W. Loewen

Originally recorded: July 8, 2012


If an audio player does not appear or if it doesn't work, click here to listen.

In 1995, James Lowen published Lies My Teacher Told Me, a powerful critique of how American history is taught in schools. He surveyedtwelve leading textbooks and found, in his words, ”an embarrassing amalgam of bland optimism, blind patriotism, and misinformation pure and simple, weigshing in at an average of four-and-a-half pounds and 888 pages.” His book won the American Book Award, the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship, and the AESA Critics' Choice Award. The book has sold over 1,250,000 copies.

On this episode of Why? we will take another look at Loewen’s arguments and ask whether his critique still stands. More philosophically, we will ask how weshould teach history. Do we present famous figures as heroes or flawed people? Do we write from the perspective of the victors or the losers? Do we investigate America as a multicultural land or as one people, undivided?

James Loewen taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont. Previously he taught at predominantly black Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He now lives in Washington, D.C., continuing his research on how Americans remember their past. He has also written: Lies Across America, Sundown Towns, Teaching What Really Happened, and The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader. He has been an expert witness in more than 50 civil rights, voting rights, and employment cases.


Please share your thoughts on this episode with other listeners:



New to the show or want to revisit old episodes?

Click here for our complete archive. Every show is available!

Or just start with one of these fan favorites. You'll love them!
(And, if you have a favorite that you think should be on the list, let us know.)


Deborah Brandt
Deborah Brandt
Deborah Brandt
Deborah Brandt
Click here to
Listen Live
and chat with other listeners
Shop the WHY? Store

Men's T-shirtDog T-ShirtMugWomen's T-shirtTeddy Bear T-Shirt
Subscribe to the
WHY? podcast


To subscribe, copy the address shown above into your podcast application or click the appropriate button below.