In the News

Kesson: Contested histories

Published on October 10, 2020 in
In 1980, historian Howard Zinn released “A People’s History of the United States,” a reader that became wildly popular in high schools across the country and sparked a revolution in the way that history is taught. Rather than putting students to sleep with factoids and timelines, teachers began to rely more on primary source materials, including documents and texts that narrate history from multiple perspectives.
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Learning About Christopher Columbus By Putting Him on Trial

Published on October 9, 2020 in
Last fall, teacher Michael Palermo called Columbus’s crew to the witness stand. Wilfredo Lopez Murcia, a student at Wakefield High School in Virginia, strolled to the front of the classroom, followed by classmate Jhonnatan Moya Miranda. “Hello, mates,” Wilfredo quipped, giving a short salute to his peers. Wilfredo and Jhonnatan were about to defend themselves in The People vs. Columbus, et al. trial, a social studies role play that encourages critical thinking about European colonization of the Americas...
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History educator: Let’s teach as if democracy depends on it — because it does

Published on October 2, 2020 in
President Trump’s recent call for “patriotic education” in American schools sparked sharp criticism from educators, historians and others who saw it as the latest assault by conservatives who believe that far-left history teachers are indoctrinating students into hating their country... Part of teaching history honestly is exposing students to a multitude of perspectives. As the Zinn Education Project wrote in response to Trump’s attacks last week, “Teaching people’s history is about empowering and invigorating students to better understand the perspectives of workers, women, Black, Indigenous, and people of color, whose voices are too often erased in the corporate-produced textbooks.”
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Racial Justice Uprising Spurs Teachers to Reshape Lesson Plans

Published on September 22, 2020 in
It’s often unsettling to confront new knowledge and see our world in new ways. When our ordered paradigms are found to be less true than we thought, we are cast adrift in a chaotic reality. Consider Galileo and others like him when they found the earth was not at the center of the universe but just one of many bodies orbiting around one of many stars. Or, reflect on the United States when the theory of natural selection in evolution reached our shores...
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How teachers are bringing lessons from the racial justice uprisings into the classroom

Published on September 18, 2020 in

For centuries, dead white men have dominated high school English classes. Syllabuses and summer readings lists are chock-full of Shakespeares, Hemingways, Faulkners, and Fitzgeralds.

But this year, Joana Chacon, an English teacher at Newton South High School, is trying something new: Like many in her department, Chacon is teaching texts only by authors of color. Freshmen will read “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros and civil rights poetry by Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Maya Angelou. Juniors will dive into Sherman Alexie’s bildungsroman, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian,” Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel “American Born Chinese," and one of Toni Morrison’s searing early works, “The Bluest Eye” or “Song of Solomon.”

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History Educators Respond to Trump: It Matters How We Tell the National Story

Published on September 18, 2020 in
Social studies and history education organizations, and many teachers, criticized the president's statements yesterday after he condemned history classes that include lessons on systemic racism for teaching what he called "lies" and "left-wing indoctrination."... The Zinn Education Project, which offers lessons and professional development based on Zinn's approach to history, also issued a statement saying that the Trump administration "seek[s] to squash ... the power of a growing number of teachers who teach outside the textbook."
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Democracy Now! New Program | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Trump Calls Howard Zinn’s Work “Propaganda.” Hear the Legendary Historian in His Own Words.

Published on September 18, 2020 in
This week President Trump described the work of the legendary historian Howard Zinn, who died in 2010, as “propaganda” meant to “make students ashamed of their own history.” But Zinn believed the opposite, that teaching the unvarnished truth about history was the best way to combat propaganda and unexamined received wisdom. We air excerpts from a 2009 interview with Zinn in which he explained his approach to education. “We should be honest with young people; we should not deceive them. We should be honest about the history of our country,” Zinn said.
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