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ERIC Number: EJ986262
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 32
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 34
ISSN: ISSN-0889-0293
Howard Zinn and the Struggle for Real History in the United States
Whitson, James Anthony
International Journal of Social Education, v24 n1 p91-122 Spr-Sum 2009
Criticisms of Howard Zinn's work on U.S. History are examined in the context of increasing emphasis on the idea of "American exceptionalism" in contemporary political and cultural discourse, and particularly the insertion of American exceptionalism into revised social studies standards for the state of Texas. Analysis focusing on the difference between Howard Zinn's approach to U.S. History and the approach taken by his critic, Lynne Cheney, reveals that there is a fundamental difference in how change is viewed by Cheney, as the achievement of a single unified American people striving together to improve life for everyone, versus Zinn's history, in which changes have resulted from struggles among people with conflicting interests, values, and beliefs. The idea of U.S. history as the history of "one nation, indivisible" is found to be a core tenet of this present version of American exceptionalism, and it is observed how this view has been incorporated into the Texas social studies standards, not only in the provision that explicitly requires teaching of American exceptionalism, but also in provisions that were amended to no longer recognize progressive changes as resulting from the struggles of specific groups of people. The paper concludes with the observation that the choice for educators is not only a choice between truthful or untruthful history, but more fundamentally between conflicting purposes for social education in the schools. (Contains 18 notes.)
International Journal of Social Education. Ball State University, Department of History, Muncie, IN 47306. Tel: 765-285-8700; Fax: 765-285-5612; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Texas
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills