Saturday, June 27, 2009

Making Room for Hope: Howard Zinn


I don't believe it's possible to be neutral. The world is already moving in certain directions. And to be neutral, to be passive, in a situation like that, is to collaborate with what is going on. And I, as a teacher, don't want to be a collaborator.
Have you watched Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train? If not, you must. Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States, reminds us that to be neutral is to collaborate with the status quo. Many people, particularly teachers, argue that teachers must remain neutral. No one is neutral. Neutrality, lack of questioning, and lack of action equate to agreement and endorsement of the current state of affairs.

Zinn's People's History reinforces the fact that, as teachers, it is not only how we teach (and the inclusive and inquiry-based practices that guide us), but also what we teach. It is in what we teach that we are able to offer truth or lies of omission and de-emphasis. In the film, Zinn spoke of viewing history as creative--history can either help us to imagine a new future if it allows us to see glimpses of the ability to achieve this future in the past, or history can paralyze us--make us hopeless. History can uncover hidden resistances to power and awaken consciousness within us. Equally important, multiple histories can allow us to see situations from the viewpoints of others'. Zinn inspires me to remember how important it is, no matter how risky, to live in defiance to that which we believe is unloving, unjust, and wrong.

Teaching Resources:
Definitely check out The Zinn Education Project above!

1 comment:

Lea Mills said...

Thank you for this. Howard Zinn has made a significant impact on my teaching. It is refreshing to see others value his contributions to the teaching and learning of history.