Information is one of the most desired treasures of our world. One who possesses credible data can generate a significant advantage and win the rivalry. At the same time, corrupted data might also precondition serious alterations in people’s views and make them act in less effective ways.
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For this reason, there have always been different approaches to knowledge sharing and its transition. Being a potent tool that can trigger a powerful public reaction, information has been provided in portions and from perspectives that can be useful for certain actors. Today, in the age of technology and media’s dominance, the relevance and true character of many facts are doubted. Moreover, there are special approaches to the creation of sources of data with the primary aim to make readers believe in ideas or assumptions that are presented there.
One of the factors proving the idea provided in the paragraph is the way textbooks change in the course of time. For instance, history is a science that rests on facts about our past that are discovered by specialists who work with ancient sources and who try to provide people with true knowledge. These facts cannot be altered; however, authors or censors can select various angles to present readers or learners with ideas that are popular nowadays and, at the same time, trigger a particularly negative reaction to trends that should be condemned.
The modern textbooks available to learners significantly differ from sources students utilized 20 years ago, and it can be a significant problem as the purposive contortion of facts or change in the manner of their presentation might undermine people’s critical abilities and precondition the society’s collapse.
The book Lies My Teacher Told Me is devoted to a similar idea. The author examines the twelve most popular American school history textbooks with the primary aim to analyze the content and comes to a conclusion that they cultivate the false mythologized vision of the history of the USA with its values (Loewen). At the same time, unpopular themes remain untouched or mentioned in passing to avoid discussions. For instance, dealings between the Europeans and indigenous people are full of corrupted facts or inaccuracies that create a completely wrong image of the nation. The problem of slavery and commerce is also disregarded, which is inappropriate for the modern age. In such a way, these books purposively contort facts to create a new vision of the past for young generations, which can be considered the tendency of modern society.
In chapter 12 Loewen raises the question of why all modern books are created in this way. Calling them “unscholarly,” the author assumes that the existing particularities of time, age, and demand impact publishers and precondition the choice of the content that will be included in a source (Loewen). From this perspective, it is critically important to forming a new image of history as “the symbolic representation of a society’s past is particularly important in stratified societies” (Loewen).
In other words, there is an attempt to raise a new generation that is sure in the heroic character of their fathers and their blameless actions that resulted in the formation and development of the nation. There is also a strong impact of the elite that is interested in the creation of the image of the strong conviction that there are no unpleasant moments in the past. For this reason, critical gaps in knowledge emerge and impact learners.
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Chapter 13 continues the author’s cogitations about the issue by asking the question about the future of learners who have to use textbooks that contain false or incomplete information presented from approved perspectives. One of the first visible signs of the negative impact of this approach is a critical deterioration of knowledge in the field of history as “two-thirds of American seventeen-year-olds cannot place the Civil War in the right half-century, or 22 percent of my students reply that the Vietnam War was fought between North and South Korea” (Loewen).
These statistics show that too obvious avoidance of unpleasant issues preconditions the development of resistance to learning among students and the decrease of the motivation to work hard to generate knowledge. It can be corrupted or incomplete because of the unscholarly character of sources students use of data collection (Loewen). At the same time, there is a worsening of critical thinking ability and analytic skills among students, which is one of the most undesired results of the given approach.
The theme of information and its representation in modern society is also touched upon in Sherman’s The Loudest Voice in the Room. The text depicts the life of Fox News Channel president Roger Ailes who has to face many challenges related to the ways in which data is presented and facts that should be provided to the audience (Sherman 23). In general, it perfectly shows the whole media channel and its cultural meaning of the contemporary world as the author offers readers visions of how knowledge can be generated by using different approaches or angles while presenting facts that cannot be denied (Sherman 76). In such a way, the book also supports the idea of multiple data manipulations critical for the modern world and impacting people’s mentalities.
In general, both Lies My Teacher Told Me and The Loudest Voice in the Room revolve around the problem of knowledge generation and presentation, which can also be related to the ideas studied during the classes. The purposive and serious alteration of past events or disregard of some other factors might create the dangerous precedent deteriorating students’ ability to think critically and analyze data they acquire every day. For this reason, it is extremely important to understand the causes of this rude interference with the past of our world and with data portions that are provided to people every day. Otherwise, the further critical deterioration of the situation can be predicted because of the lack of motivation or necessity to learn the past of the state.
Altogether, the analyzed books can be related to the main topics discussed during the classes. Information remains one of the most potent tools of modern society that can be used for various purposes. Unfortunately, today, there are many attempts to manipulate people’s mentalities by providing them with false images of their pastor by omitting some facts that might be considered inappropriate or unpleasant from the modern perspective. The existing tendency towards the growing number of unscholarly sources that operate this information means that worsening of the situation can be expected. For this reason, it is critical to understand the central motifs for these actions and the actors responsible for them with the primary aim to introduce an appropriate reaction.
Loewen, James. Lies My Teacher Told Me. The New Press, 2007.
Sherman, Gabriel. The Loudest Voice in the Room. Random House, 2014.