What does Loewen mean by "heroification?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The concept of "heroification" is one of the elements that Loewen feels makes history textbooks historically inaccurate.  Loewen feels that part of the challenge in American History textbooks is that there is an obsessive need to deify American Historical figures.  Loewen uses Columbus as one such examples.  Rather than present the complexity in assessing these figures and individuals as part of the American Historical Dialectic, Loewen argues that these individuals are raised to a platform that is beyond reproach or question.  In doing this, Loewen argues that this heroification is something that enables readers and teachers to overlook the conflicts that enable a full reading of historical narratives and bring in other points of view.  The "heroification" process is done to make textbooks more appealing to school districts and to also present an artificially "exceptionalist" view of American History.  At the same time, "heroification" enables students to assume a role of passivity in constructing the next wave of American social and historical dynamics.  If all that is read are about heroes, it creates the mentality that there is nothing left to do and this enables those in the position of power to continue doing what they do without any sort of questioning or analysis.  It is here where Loewen's argument is probably the most persuasive in that heroification actually does more to inhbit youth than inspire them.

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