Why We Support the #OccupyWallStreet Movement
Published on October 12, 2011 in What’s Possible: The Tides Blog

By Melissa Bradley

The Zinn Education Project has been promoting the role of working people, women, people of color, and organized social movements in actively shaping history for years. I can only imagine how the 99 percent movement will be taught in years to come.

#OccupyWallStreet is clearly a people’s movement. There is a minimal presence of organized labor and it has purposely forgone the sometimes distracting charismatic personalities of many other movements in the making. Understated, organized, and committed are adjectives that best describe #OccupyWallStreet. Others are scalable, patient, and strategic. All of these qualities seem to elude the press.

As expected, conservative media are characterizing #OccupyWallStreet as an anomaly comprised of crazy anarchists. Other relatively progressive but mainstream media organizations are also undermining the power of these massive pods of patient protestors popping up all over the country. Dismissing the wisdom, history, and innovation of the group, these media outlets have framed #OccupyWallStreet as a group of misinformed individuals without an agenda or clear plan.

Nonsense!

From the bus boycotts to the Black Panthers, #OccupyWallStreet represents the results of historical marginalization and lack of true representation in the US Congress, on Wall Street, and in local elected offices. #OccupyWallStreet represents the best of American ideals and ingenuity. They are inclusive, intergenerational, focused, and democratic.

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Teaching Against War, for Humanity
Published on October 1, 2011 in War Resisters League magazine

By Bill Bigelow

Wars? What wars? On the eve of the U.S. midterm elections, WikiLeaks released the largest cache of classified war documents in history, covering years of U.S. conduct in Iraq. And, as Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman pointed out, “It barely warranted a mention on the agenda-setting Sunday talk shows.” As columnist Gary Younge commented in The Nation, “The American people, it seems, are bored with war. Like a reality show that’s gone on too long, it ceases to shock, shame, or even interest.”

Regrettably, the school curriculum mirrors this lack of curiosity about the impact of U.S. military intervention thousands of miles from home. One of the most widely used high school global studies texts, McDougal Littell’s Modern World History, includes a propagandistic two pages on the Iraq War. The textbook includes no mention of the massive antiwar protests that preceded the U.S. invasion. The result of the war, according to McDougal Littell: “With the help of U.S. officials, Iraqis began rebuilding their nation.” The book gives George W. Bush the last words: “Free nations will press on to victory.”

The production of teaching materials in the United States is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few multinational corporations, none with any interest in equipping students with the skills to critically consider issues of war and militarism. Thus, in schools as on the news, wars are either absent or lied about. Sparked by a conversation between the late historian-activist Howard Zinn and a former Zinn student-turned-philanthropist/activist, William Holtzman, the Zinn Education Project created a website, www.zinnedproject.org, to offer teachers materials to counter the dull and conservative fare that is the norm in school classrooms.

Continue reading at War Resisters League magazine »

The Zinn Education Project – Continuing the Work
Published on March 1, 2011 in Teacherken-Daily Kos

By teacherken

“He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”

It seems appropriate to begin with those famous words by George Orwell, because to me they explain the importance of the life and work of Howard Zinn, best known for his A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present. That work was far from his only significant historical writing, nor did his productivity end when it was published in 1980.

His life and his work offered a different way of perceiving our history, one that was far more critical than traditional American histories, and thus far more honest.

The Zinn Education Project is the result of someone who wishes to remain anonymous, who after seeing the biographical film on Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, wanted to get Zinn’s work more widely known and more widely used.  Zinn, whose lectures he had attended while at Boston U in the 1970s, put him touch with Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change (two organizations all progressives should support), and the Zinn Education Project is the result.

Please keep reading.

Continue reading at Teacherken-Daily Kos »

Remembering Howard Zinn: Power to The People’s History
Published on January 27, 2011 in Huffington Post

By Sam Chaltain

My wife likes to tell this one story from when she was in high school, and she asked her U.S. History teacher why the class wasn’t learning more about the Indians. “We don’t have time for the Indians,” he responded. “We have an AP curriculum to get through.”

Had I been as inquisitive as my wife when I was a teenager, I would have received the same answer. So, I suspect, would most of you; indeed, for too many of us, the study of American history ended up being little more than a linear, logical march through the years — filled with neat plot lines of cause and effect, victors and enemies, and a whole lot of triumphant white men.

Like so many others, I didn’t realize there was another way to imagine the chronicling of the American narrative, or the construction of history itself, until I first read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Once I did, my understanding of the world was forever changed.

Continue reading at Huffington Post »

Critical Media Literacy in the 2.0
Published on September 1, 2010 in Language Arts Journal

By Jesse Gainer

This column is dedicated to the memory of Howard Zinn, who passed away this year at the age of 87. Zinn’s life and work — an unwavering pursuit of justice through focused attention on the marginalized and the oppressed — inspired countless people across the world. Zinn’s work highlighted what traditionally is not present in mainstream history texts, such as the voices and experiences of women, people of color, workers, and social activists. Readers of his work gain knowledge about historical figures and events that were not typically part of most people’s classroom experiences. However, the significance of his work is greater than the factual pieces of the puzzle he helped add to our historical narrative. His work points to a critique of larger systematic and structural inequities that lead to the privileging of a few and the oppression of many. His insistence on shining a light on unofficial history, or as he put it, the “people’s history,” is at the heart of what we call critical literacy.

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People’s History Awaits Finley Students
Published on August 1, 2010 in Huntington Public Schools Headlines

Esmeralda Tello can’t wait to utilize a new set of history books in her social studies classroom at J. Taylor Finley Middle School. The books were presented to the teacher by the Zinn Education Project during a ceremony at the school late last spring.

Copies of historian-author Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” made their way to Finley following Ms. Tello’s successful participation in a contest that required an essay that described how she found the key to engaging her students is to emphasize the stories that are often left out of typical textbooks.

The Zinn Education Project encourages the teaching of a “people’s history,” including the perspectives and experiences of regular working class people, women, people of color and organized social movements, according to the group’s website.

Continue reading at Huntington Public Schools Headlines »

Channeling Zinn: Local history teacher brings the Zinn Education Project to the Classroom
Published on June 29, 2010 in Santa Cruz Good Times

By Elizabeth Limbach

The wall behind Jeff Matlock’s desk is covered with photographs and paintings of his heroes from American history: Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Abraham Lincoln, and Jane Adams among them. There is a photograph of women marching down Pennsylvania Avenue in 1913 with a sign that reads, “I wish Ma could vote!” And, as if to encapsulate Matlock’s “nothing is black and white” view on history, he also has two contrasting photographs beside one another: one of a group protesting World War I with signs that say “Don’t send our boys to die in a useless war,” and the other, a shot of U.S. soldiers wading ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day. “There are two sides to every story,” he says simply.

Squeezed in beside these notable figures from history is the one who instilled this all-inclusive attitude in him, and perhaps his favorite hero of them all: late historian, author and activist Howard Zinn.

Matlock was a history buff from an early age. He hardly had to study for tests and could spout off historical dates without fail. But it wasn’t until he picked up a copy of Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” as a teenager that history became more than dates and places for him. “I felt like my world totally opened up into something I’d never thought of before,” he remembers. “I never saw history as being something that could be less than concrete. I thought ‘these are facts, this is the way it is.’ But what Zinn taught me was that nothing is absolute.”

Continue reading at Santa Cruz Good Times »

A local teacher with the Henry Ford Academy is being honored for teaching beyond the textbook.
Published on June 18, 2010 in Fox 29 San Antonio

Through the Zinn Education Project (www.zinnedproject.org), this teacher has received a free class set of 25 copies of A People’s History of the United States. Here she is on the local news talking about why it is important to teach from a people’s perspective.

Continue reading at Fox 29 San Antonio »