Wart-free history

What goes in the history textbooks? It’s a big debate in many countries, reports Education Week. Instilling national pride often conflicts with accuracy.

The breakup of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago ushered in a new generation of history textbooks for Russian schoolchildren that for the first time outlined in raw detail the brutality of Joseph Stalin’s reign.

But now, as the country continues to struggle with a depressed social and economic structure, some officials are calling for a glossier presentation of Russian history, one that would imbue national pride and positive feelings about its previous status as a superpower.

In Japan, history books ignore Japanese atrocities in World War II.

In India, a “Hindu-nationalist government in power from 1998 to 2004 revised the country’s curriculum,” including adopting books that didn’t mention that a Hindu fanatic killed Gandhi. The secularists, now back in charge, have reissued the old history texts.

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  1. Some stories my history school texts never mentioned:

    1. Atrocities against American Indians

    2. Internment of Japanese in WWII

    3. Exploitation of Chinese labor in California

    Whitewashing history for children’s consumption has been around as long as history textbooks have been written.

  2. Pretty soon we’ll have textbooks that say that Saddam himself piloted one of the jets that slammed into the Twin Towers and that Charles Darwin piloted the other.

    And they both survived and are currently hiding in safe houses maintained my liberals.

  3. It works both ways. My daughter had to write an essay (4th or 5th grade) about whether Truman was right to drop the bomb. After she drafted her essay, I checked her textbook–sure enough, no mention of Bataan or kamikaze’s (let alone the other atrocities of the Japanese). After an explanation of those 2 terms, she rewrote her essay.

    24 kids in the class. 23 said Truman was wrong. Mine said he was justified.

    Even if we don’t homeschool, we have to educate at home.

  4. Red – I don’t think you can really get into a discussion about whether Truman was right to drop the bomb until you mention the estimated causalties of an assault on the mainland, which ran in the millions. Also, for all the times I got that question in public school (at least 4 if I remember right), that point, which was central in Truman’s mind, was never once mentioned.