2010-06-04 / Schools
History teacher honored for including voices seldom heard
Angelica Chavez, an 11thgrade U.S. history teacher at Adolfo Camarillo High School, was one of 20 teachers selected by the Zinn Education Project to receive a free class set of 25 copies of “A People’s History of the United States,” a copy of the film “The People Speak” and the books “A Young People’s History of the United States” and “Voice of a People’s History of the United States.”
To celebrate her achievement, on June 3 Camarillo High School students read their work and Chavez spoke on the importance of teaching history that includes multiple voices.
Chavez found that the key to engaging students is to emphasize the stories that are left out of the textbooks.
The Zinn Education Project asked teachers to describe how they teach a “people’s history” that includes the perspectives and experiences of working people, women, people of color and organized social movements.
“Students often complain that history is boring,” said Chavez, because “they are taught the same one-sided narrative since elementary school.”
Teaching a more accurate and complex version of history, one that includes the voices of those often left out of traditional texts, has been the key to successfully attracting students’ intellectual curiosity, she said.
Chavez led the students in the “gallery walk” activity about the labor movement of the 1920s to 1940s.
Students created posters about the experiences of labor organizers and workers and then toured the classroom like an art gallery, learning from each other’s work.
The Zinn Education Project is named for the late Howard Zinn, historian and author of “A People’s History of the United States.” The project was cofounded in 2008 by Zinn and the nonprofit organizations Teaching for Change and Rethinking Schools.