Sunday, August 30, 2009

People's History

I am reading A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. If I had more time, I would read stuff like this all the time. And by 'stuff like this', I mean 'books'. I read Letters to a Young Conservative by Dinesh D'Souza a number of years ago. It got me extremely charged up to understand the state of the union and the Constitution and everything social and political. I was encouraged to not remain ignorant of pertinent issues.

I'm really looking forward to this book. I read through most of the first chapter while waiting at the DMV. It discusses the discovery of the New World by Columbus and various other explorers and the resulting impact on the native cultures. One of the points he targets is the idea that terrible atrocities have essentially been justified by the perspective of historians through the ages. The mass genocide of many of the native cultures of the Americas was deemed necessary for advancement of European culture in the New World. History is a balance of perspectives. This book seeks to present history from many perspectives - not just the perspectives of explorers and politicians.

This book is going to spark questions. I love that. Isn't that what we want, as learners? To be sparked alive with questions in what we are learning? And what a fantastic implication for teachers.

My friend, Mya, was talking about how her experience living in Japan has taught her that who she is as a person is partially due to her American heritage. That American history, which once used to seem fairly abstract and detached from her life, has now come alive in the very American way she relates to the world. What does that mean, really? And how would I relate to the world differently if I was not this person I am now?

This is why I am reading this book.

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