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Lowene argues, “The authors of history
textbooks have taken us on a trip of their own, away from the facts of history,
into the realm of myth.” Presently, high school history classes teach students
about historical figures through facts and memorization, this makes for a risky
foundation about history. As events retreat further into the past, authors tend
to misinterpret facts that they have researched. A story of discovery and
friendship or a story of conquest, murder, and greed, which of these is
Christopher Columbus’ story. I believe that Columbus’ story should be taught
through historiography. In historiography, the student learns to compare and
contrast different outlooks from different authors. For example, if a specific
historian approaches an event from the perspective of his preferred political
party, analyzing the angles, objectives, and consequences of their decisions,
he would write to view them in an advantageous way.

Boring! This is what American high school
history class have come down too; every year history teachers stress the
importance of students remembering important dates and facts. With today’s
technology, students have information readily available and today’s generation
can consume mass information of facts in a short amount of time. Introducing
historiography would introduce critical thinking at an earlier age,
historiography would guide students to learn history through a diverse set of
historians who focused on the same subject and come to different conclusions;
this sets a better understanding of a subject, and opens up a wider class
discussion dialog.

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Take, for example, Washington Irving; Irving
was a Nineteenth-century author that spent years in Europe studying the life of
Columbus. Irving was one of the first American writers focused on subjects and
themes of American life. He wrote a four-volume biography of Columbus portrayed
the explorer as an American icon, portraying him in heroic terms. “Columbus was
a man of great and inventive genius . . . His ambition was lofty and noble,
inspiring him with high thoughts, and an anxiety to distinguish himself by
great achievements . . . His conduct was characterized by the grandeur of his
views and the magnanimity nobility of his spirit. Instead of ravaging plundering
the newly found countries, . . . he sought to colonize and cultivate them, to
civilize the natives . . . A valiant and indignant spirit . . . a visionary of
an uncommon kind.”  More than a century
after Irving, historian Samuel Eliot Morison portrayed Columbus as a real
person with both strengths and flaws. Morison, a naval historian, focused on
Columbus’s skills as a mariner, or sailor and navigator.

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