Howard Zinn: A Competing Narrative Analysis

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Howard Zinn: A Competing Narrative Early March in Arkansas a Republican state Representative Kim Hendren introduced a bill to ban any book produced by Howard Zinn between the years of 1959-2010 in public schools. This ban included his bestselling book A People’s History of the United States that attempts to retell the typical historical narrative taught in schools from the perspective of the marginalized. This incident was not the first time that Zinn’s material had been targeted. Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels had also attempted to remove Zinn’s work from classrooms in Indiana. In retort, the Zinn Education Project, an institution dedicated to promoting Zinn’s work into middle and high school classrooms, decided to offer free copies…show more content…
In the section titled Teaching the AHA states “Integrity in teaching means presenting competing interpretations with fairness and intellectual honesty...leading them toward the insight that history is a process of living inquiry, not an inert collection of accepted facts” (AHA Statement on Standards 11). Additionally, the AHA highlights that textbooks, course offerings, and public history presentations should represent “the diversity of human experience”, which is primarily the goal of Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States (AHA Statement on Standards 11). However, students hold the freedom to openly disagree with certain interpretations and it is not the role of the teacher to dismiss criticisms. The role of the teacher is to present conflicting interpretations and allow students to come to their own conclusions. Lastly, the section called Shared Values of Historians discusses the importance of creating critical dialogue. The AHA explains that “Multiple, conflicting perspectives are among the truths of history” (AHA Statement on Standards 5). Therefore, there is no objective history that could end the dialogue that historians have been a part of for so long. However, this does mean that there will be conflicting views and people have the freedom to accept these…show more content…
The AHA’s discussion of dialogue and truth connect to the ethical theory of Kantianism. Kantianism is a form of Deontology that provides us with the Universal Law Formula and the Humanity as an End in Itself Formula. The Universal Law Formula says that we should treat others in the way that we expect others to treat us. The Humanity as an End in Itself Formula explains that humans should never be used as a means to an end or we should simply respect humans. Through these formulas come the idea of imperfect and perfect duties. A perfect duty is moral truth that must be followed at all times, while an imperfect duty is one that should be followed some of the time depending on the circumstance. Kant expresses that we have perfect duties to respect other’s freedoms and we have a perfect duty to tell the truth. The AHA uses these two duties in their discussions on teaching and the shared values of historians. First off, the AHA states that presenting multiple perspectives on history are parts of the truths of history, therefore according to Kant we have a perfect duty to truth and presenting multiple perspectives. Secondly, the AHA explains the importance of dialogue and respecting opposing viewpoints. Kant argues that we also have a perfect duty to respect other’s freedoms including free speech, consequently we have a perfect duty to dialogue. In conclusion, the
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