Lies my Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen is about the distortions, omissions, and downright untruths in American history textbooks. He argues that it is such a disservice to all of us. (I agree.) The book is fascinating in the details it provides about history. Did you know Helen Keller was a socialist?

I wish the author had framed the issue just a little bigger. Textbooks are driven by state assessment and state boards of education. I have had more than one history teacher lament the date-driven, chronological history approach that is required by the testing. As one history teacher said to me, “How do you teach 400 years of American history in one year?” The answer, quite simply, is that you don’t.

The other issue in American history right now is that it is reduced to two canons of history—military and political. All the other canons of history—art, design, music, social customs, clothing, etc.—are not included.


The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh has some fabulous tips and tools. Among his insights:

“Understanding suffering always brings compassion. If we don’t understand suffering, we don’t understand happiness…If a lotus is to grow, it needs to be rooted in the mud…When the energy of compassion is born, right away we suffer less.”

“Self-understanding is crucial for understanding another person; self-love is critical for loving others.”

He says there are two keys to compassionate communication: deep listening and loving speech. “When we listen with compassion, we don’t get caught in judgment.”

He said to ask another person who you care about this question: “Do I understand you enough?” It allows doors to open.

He also has six mantras of loving speech.

This book gave me several insights into ways to communicate better.