Teaching a People’s History – ZINN Education Project

Linked on our blogs with Howard Zinn – USA.

  • Why should we teach “a people’s history” instead of the traditional narrative? Here are responses from some of the authors featured on the website and teachers:
  • Howard Zinn: We are pleased to share the keynote address Howard Zinn gave at the 2008 National Conference for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference. He offers clear examples of how history teachers can help students think outside of the box. This is an excellent film to be shown in parts or in full for staff discussion.
  • Teachers: … (full long text Why).

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About the Zinn Education Project: The Zinn Education Project promotes and supports the use of Howard Zinn’s best-selling book A People’s History of the United States and other materials for teaching a people’s history in middle and high school classrooms across the country. The Zinn Education Project is coordinated by two non-profit organizations, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change

Its goal is to introduce students to a more accurate, complex, and engaging understanding of United States history than is found in traditional textbooks and curricula. The empowering potential of studying U.S. history is often lost in a textbook-driven trivial pursuit of names and dates. Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Voices of a People’s History of the United States emphasize the role of working people, women, people of color, and organized social movements in shaping history. Students learn that history is made not by a few heroic individuals, but instead by people’s choices and actions, thereby also learning that their own choices and actions matter.

We believe that through taking a more engaging and more honest look at the past, we can help equip students with the analytical tools to make sense of — and improve — the world today. For a more complete description, read A People’s History, A People’s Pedagogy.

Project Background:

In late 2007, a former Boston University journalism student watched You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, the film about the life of historian, professor, and activist Howard Zinn. He recalled attending Professor Zinn’s remarkable lectures at Boston University in the 1970s, and marveled at how Zinn’s “people’s history” was so much more alive and accurate than the traditional history he had received in high school.

After a successful career in technology, he wanted to bring Zinn’s work to a new generation of students. So he contacted Howard Zinn who put him in touch with two non-profit organizations, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change. Each group has over 20 years of experience in providing social justice resources and professional development for pre-K-through-12 classroom teachers and teacher educators.

“I’d prefer to remain anonymous,” he told us. “This is not about me; it’s about getting Howard Zinn’s work into the hands of as many teachers as possible.”

So with the generous support and advice of this anonymous donor, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change partnered to launch the Zinn Education Project.

Some 30 years after his exposure to Howard Zinn’s “people’s history,” the former Boston University student who initiated this project demonstrates that classroom experience can have a lifelong impact.

Highlights: … (full long text).

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