Howard Zinn was an activist and historian, well known for telling the story of the United States through the eyes of “those outside of the political and economic establishment.” Howard Zinn passed away in 2010, but his work continues to influence the lives and education of the younger generations.
What is it 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 (available http://store.laborheritage.org/apeopleshistoryofamericanempire.aspx) 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 emphasizes 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.
The Zinn Education Project provides teaching materials and lesson plans by time period and by theme.
For the revolutionary era, for example they challenge the common protrayal of the Constitution as “a secular ten commandments” by inviting the students to roll play the decision-making, not only from the perspectives of lawyers, bankers, merchants and plantation owners, but also poor farmers, workers and enslaved African Americans.