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shutterstock_65361118My son entered high school last week. In his American History class, the teacher wasted no time with the indoctrination: The very first assignment was a selection from the work of Howard Zinn. Before you suggest I summarily withdraw him from the school, let me say that I think this is a good thing. I want him to be exposed to progressive thought, the more ridiculous the better.

Furthermore, the assignment required the students to assess Zinn’s biases, which my son did with gusto. He told me it was absurd for Zinn to judge Christopher Columbus by modern standards. I couldn’t have been more proud.

Addendum: See my Comment #27. Although the teacher is definitely a progressive, I may have been too quick to judge, as he appears to encourage critical thinking, notwithstanding his bias.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor

    What an excellent opportunity for your son, Johnny! I just wonder about the kind of flack he will get from the teacher. Will he or she evaluate him on his critical thinking or on his “nonsensical thinking”? Fortunately he has you to back him up. I hope it turns out to be a positive learning experience for him. You might update us after the semester is over.

    • #1
    • September 13, 2016, at 4:08 PM PDT
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  2. TKC1101 Inactive

    Oh, for the old days when the teacher would have been branded a subversive commie, fired and run out of town. I miss those days of community togetherness.

    • #2
    • September 13, 2016, at 4:15 PM PDT
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  3. Hoyacon Member

    It sounds like your son is well prepared, but I was struck by the fact that this was the first assignment. I’m not sure if this is an introductory course (“American History 101”) but there are a myriad of reputable historians who strike me as better choices for the first. Color me cynical, but Zinn’s biases are more apparent against the backdrop of others’ views.

    • #3
    • September 13, 2016, at 4:28 PM PDT
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  4. MarciN Member

    One of my daughters had a history teacher who was displaying a big poster honoring Lenin.

    Funny story: he saw me do a double take, and it came down a week later. That was because it was a private high school. I didn’t say anything to anyone, and I’ll never know if he took it down because of the look I gave the poster and him. But it was nice not to see there later on. :)

    • #4
    • September 13, 2016, at 4:29 PM PDT
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  5. RightAngles Member

    You raised him right! I had to de-program my daughter every day after school for 18 years. In 2nd grade, they taught her that the most important person in American history was Jesse Owens. In 3rd grade, all the teacher had to say about Thomas Jefferson was that he got a slave pregnant (for 8-year-olds!!) and that he died “alone and in poverty.” Nice. In high school, her history teacher had a poster of Malcolm X and one of those fist-in-the-air “power to the people” ones. And we wonder why Bernie Sanders happened.

    • #5
    • September 13, 2016, at 4:42 PM PDT
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  6. kylez Member
    kylez Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Well if one was a conservative history teacher an assignment about Zinn’s biases on the first day could be perfectly subversive. You shall see.

    • #6
    • September 13, 2016, at 4:48 PM PDT
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  7. MarciN Member

    RightAngles: You raised him right! I had to de-program my daughter every day after school for 18 years.

    I felt that way with all three of my children.

    • #7
    • September 13, 2016, at 4:51 PM PDT
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  8. kylez Member
    kylez Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    RightAngles:You raised him right! I had to de-program my daughter every day after school for 18 years. In 2nd grade, they taught her that the most important person in American history was Jesse Owens. In 3rtd grade, all the teacher had to say about Thomas Jefferson was that he got a slave pregnant (for 8-year-olds!!) and that he died “alone and in poverty.” Nice. In high school, her history teacher had a poster of Malcolm X and one of those fist-in-the-air “power to the people” ones. And we wonder why Bernie Sanders happened.

    Should’ve raised her hand and said “most important American Olympic athlete of the 1930s”. That is ridiculous, I (probably) didn’t even know who Owens was in 2nd grade (’88-’89), and didn’t know the Jefferson thing until at least high school, but probably after (if it’s true). I know a guy who has this book. Though if you believe that book another says you’re this.

    • #8
    • September 13, 2016, at 5:08 PM PDT
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  9. Arahant Member

    TKC1101:Oh, for the old days when the teacher would have been branded a subversive commie, fired and run out of town. I miss those days of community togetherness.

    Barrels of tar, tons of feathers should await them all before their ride out of town on a rail.

    • #9
    • September 13, 2016, at 5:08 PM PDT
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  10. Marlowe Inactive

    Might as well get it over with, it’s a fight he’s going to be having from now until he takes his last college History class. Zinn and the rest of the Neo-Marxist movement is all over the History Departments of many institutions across the nation.

    • #10
    • September 13, 2016, at 5:18 PM PDT
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  11. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    Pick up a copy of anything written by Daniel Boorstin. The Americans series is still in print, he has a great book about Jefferson, The Image is another. They’re on Amazon or they should also be in your local library. Boorstin is as good an antidote to Zinn or any other shinola that gets sent his way. Textbooks in general are terrible.

    It will either be a fun year or an exhausting year, or quite possibly both simultaneously.

    • #11
    • September 13, 2016, at 5:34 PM PDT
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  12. GrannyDude Member

    My boys learned, in high school, how to write the “feminist” term papers their English teacher approved of. They thought it was funny. Which, in retrospect, I guess says something (?) about my parenting?

    • #12
    • September 13, 2016, at 5:54 PM PDT
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  13. RightAngles Member

    kylez:

    RightAngles:You raised him right! I had to de-program my daughter every day after school for 18 years. In 2nd grade, they taught her that the most important person in American history was Jesse Owens. In 3rtd grade, all the teacher had to say about Thomas Jefferson was that he got a slave pregnant (for 8-year-olds!!) and that he died “alone and in poverty.” Nice. In high school, her history teacher had a poster of Malcolm X and one of those fist-in-the-air “power to the people” ones. And we wonder why Bernie Sanders happened.

    Should’ve raised her hand and said “most important American Olympic athlete of the 1930s”. That is ridiculous, I (probably) didn’t even know who Owens was in 2nd grade (’88-’89), and didn’t know the Jefferson thing until at least high school, but probably after (if it’s true). I know a guy who has this book. Though if you believe that book another says you’re this.

    And there is no good reason to tell students about the pregnant slave until that age. And your second link! Unbelievable! I just left a scathing review. So thanks. Do these people actually not see that the Left are the ones who distort history to advance an agenda?!

    • #13
    • September 13, 2016, at 6:08 PM PDT
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  14. Arahant Member

    RightAngles: I just left a scathing review.

    Did you read the book before reviewing it?

    • #14
    • September 13, 2016, at 6:16 PM PDT
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  15. MJBubba Inactive

    I recommend that you get a good history book from before history was thoroughly corrupted by the Left. In particular, here is a series of slim volumes with a great collection of amazing pictures and quotes. You will find it fascinating. If your son is a reader, he will enjoy consuming these works as he goes through his class. It was published in 1963; used complete sets are still readily available. If possible, get a set that has the supplemental volume they published that includes the 1960s.

    The American Heritage New Illustrated History of the United States:

    http://www.ebay.com/bhp/american-heritage-books

    • #15
    • September 13, 2016, at 6:26 PM PDT
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  16. Lois Lane Coolidge

    @kylez, I start my classes with Howard Zinn. And how narratives are crafted. The fact that the teacher had students challenge Zinn may very well indicate a conservative in charge, not a liberal.

    (I don’t try to indoctrinate either way. I do promote critical thinking.)

    • #16
    • September 13, 2016, at 7:13 PM PDT
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  17. MarciN Member

    MJBubba:I recommend that you get a good history book from before history was thoroughly corrupted by the Left. In particular, here is a series of slim volumes with a great collection of amazing pictures and quotes. You will find it fascinating. If your son is a reader, he will enjoy consuming these works as he goes through his class. It was published in 1963; used complete sets are still readily available. If possible, get a set that has the supplemental volume they published that includes the 1960s.

    The American Heritage New Illustrated History of the United States:

    http://www.ebay.com/bhp/american-heritage-books

    This is excellent advice. Truly excellent.

    • #17
    • September 13, 2016, at 7:20 PM PDT
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  18. rico Inactive

    The kids in my daughter’s high school circle of friends made sport of sniffing out the Leftist teachers. It wasn’t too hard because such teachers were completely incapable of suppressing their zeal.

    • #18
    • September 13, 2016, at 7:25 PM PDT
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  19. RightAngles Member

    Arahant:

    RightAngles: I just left a scathing review.

    Did you read the book before reviewing it?

    I read it in 2007. This is an updated version, where she substitutes “the Christian Right” with “Christian Nationalists” or something like that, an obvious attempt to make Christians seem like Nazis (she claims the substitution was made because “Christian Right” is out of date. I say it’s because their newest tactic is to try to tie patriotism with Hitler and/or Mussolini). The stupid stories she gleefully “debunks” are mostly obscure stories that I for one was never taught in school.

    • #19
    • September 13, 2016, at 7:40 PM PDT
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  20. Pencilvania Inactive

    Johnny Dubya, when’s Back to School night? Wonder if you’ll get an ‘Oh, so you’re his father” look from the teacher!

    • #20
    • September 13, 2016, at 8:05 PM PDT
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  21. EHerring Coolidge

    My daughter was treated to Zinn in high school and I treated her with real historical writings. She debated the teacher every day while the rest sat dumbfounded. She got an A. Even though the teacher was a leftie, she preferred thoughtful debate over dumbfounded stares. I think my now adult daughter is more conservative than I.

    I once read Zinn, Paul Johnson, and Schweitzer side by side, comparing how each handled history. The absence of intellectual heft was obvious in the Zinn book.

    • #21
    • September 13, 2016, at 8:10 PM PDT
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  22. RightAngles Member

    EHerring:My daughter was treated to Zinn in high school and I treated her with real historical writings. She debated the teacher every day while the rest sat dumbfounded. She got an A. Even though the teacher was a leftie, she preferred thoughtful debate over dumbfounded stares. I think my now adult daughter is more conservative than I.

    I once read Zinn, Paul Johnson, and Schweitzer side by side, comparing how each handled history. The absence of intellectual heft was obvious in the Zinn book.

    My daughter’s high school history teacher, in the WWII unit, called our war posters “propaganda posters.” I reported him to the school, pointing out that “propaganda” is what we call the posters of the enemy.

    • #22
    • September 13, 2016, at 8:35 PM PDT
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  23. kylez Member
    kylez Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    RightAngles:

    Arahant:

    RightAngles: I just left a scathing review.

    Did you read the book before reviewing it?

    I read it in 2007. This is an updated version, where she substitutes “the Christian Right” with “Christian Nationalists” or something like that, an obvious attempt to make Christians seem like Nazis (she claims the substitution was made because “Christian Right” is out of date. I say it’s because their newest tactic is to try to tie patriotism with Hitler and/or Mussolini). The stupid stories she gleefully “debunks” are mostly obscure stories that I for one was never taught in school.

    They always excel in the art of straw-man building. In another book at the link you can learn about “the surprising link between conservative Christianity and crime”. Can’t wait.

    • #23
    • September 13, 2016, at 10:45 PM PDT
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  24. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    ColumbusWhat’s darkly hilarious about that cartoon is that — even if you accept the darkest, most deplorable spin on Columbus — the holiday doesn’t honor him for his treatment of Native Americans.

    • #24
    • September 14, 2016, at 4:04 AM PDT
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  25. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I teach high school American history in conjunction with literature (I don’t offer “social studies” at Toad Hall’s Edith Stein Homeschool Academy).

    Our basic text was written by Anne Carroll, who with her hubsnd Warren founded Christendom College, and we supplement with things like Mourt’s Relation, Ben Franklin’s autobiography, Brookhiser’s Washington book, Jean Edward Smith’s GrantThe Deerslayer, and Shadows on the Rock. Their final paper last year was a comparison of WitnessThe Bells of Nagasaki, and The Soul of a Lion: the Story of Dietrich von Hildebrand.

    No Zinn, sorry.

    • #25
    • September 14, 2016, at 4:20 AM PDT
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  26. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My 9th grader just started school (home schooled until now) at an elite local private institution. We attended Parents’ Evening and were explained, by a black teacher who used the word “outreaching”, how their World Cultures class was basically about everything except America.

    I looked at the list:

    Africa

    South and Latin America

    Asia

    Southern Asia

    Oceania

    So I asked: “What happened to Europe?”

    “Oh!” he replied. “Everything but America and Europe and Russia.”

    Which, of course, was also not true. Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada… The class in “World Cultures” specifically excludes any nation populated primarily by white people.

    It also was all about Sustanability and how to be a “Global Citizen.” If I was in high school again, I would have torn this clown apart. But my kids are smarter than I was. They’ll creatively tell this idiot what he wants to hear.

    I did tell the headmaster of the school that the entire course was utter bollocks, and they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

    • #26
    • September 14, 2016, at 6:20 AM PDT
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  27. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya

    Thanks for all the comments thus far. To address certain comments and questions therein:

    The teacher is a middle-aged man who was previously my daughter’s history teacher. Therefore, we were already acquainted with his center-left nature. He is a former attorney, and the rumor is that he is fairly wealthy and teaches because he enjoys it – not for financial reasons.

    Last night, I discussed with my son the outcome of the Columbus unit in the class. The teacher divided the class into opinion groups – those who believed Columbus was (1) a hero, (2) mostly good, (3) mostly bad, or (4) a villain. My son was a member of the first group.

    The teacher asked a girl in the fourth group why she had that opinion. She said that Columbus committed genocide. The teacher responded that Columbus’s actions did not fit the definition of genocide. He explained that war and even murder are not necessarily the same thing as genocide.

    My son asserted that Columbus could not be judged by today’s standards and that his feats of exploration were heroic.

    The teacher actually seemed to lean toward this view.

    It seems that I was prejudicial when I first heard about the assignment. As one commenter noted, a conservative teacher might assign a Zinn reading. While that’s not the case here, it does appear that the teacher is not a rigid ideologue and is willing to encourage critical thinking, wherever it leads.

    • #27
    • September 14, 2016, at 6:45 AM PDT
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  28. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya

    Lois Lane:@kylez, I start my classes with Howard Zinn. And how narratives are crafted. The fact that the teacher had students challenge Zinn may very well indicate a conservative in charge, not a liberal.

    (I don’t try to indoctrinate either way. I do promote critical thinking.)

    Quoting Lois’s comment to highlight it, as it was one I referred to in #27 above.

    Indeed, though the teacher is not a conservative, he did encourage the students to challenge Zinn and use critical thinking.

    • #28
    • September 14, 2016, at 6:53 AM PDT
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  29. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya

    rico:The kids in my daughter’s high school circle of friends made sport of sniffing out the Leftist teachers. It wasn’t too hard because such teachers were completely incapable of suppressing their zeal.

    It is encouraging that my daughter (she’s a senior) and her right-thinking friends roll their eyes at both the leftist teachers and the social justice warriors (“SJWs”) within their own ranks. They actually get into debates with each other on social media. This morning, the topic was one of the Kardashians and whether her wearing a “do-rag” was cultural appropriation.

    • #29
    • September 14, 2016, at 6:59 AM PDT
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  30. Michael Brehm Member

    kylez: Well if one was a conservative history teacher an assignment about Zinn’s biases on the first day could be perfectly subversive. You shall see.

    I actually had a conservative history prof my freshman year in college who did a similar exercise with us. I recall that we read a neutral account of the Plymouth colony then we had to write two short essays: one Pro-colonial and one Anti-colonial drawing from the same resource.

    • #30
    • September 14, 2016, at 9:54 AM PDT
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