This Changes Everything Writing Retreat

Rethinking Schools and the Zinn Education Project are partnering with an exciting project: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. This “multi-platform” project includes the new book by Naomi Klein (No Logo, The Shock Doctrine), a feature documentary inspired by the book, and an ambitious outreach strategy to share the ideas behind these works with educators and activists, starting in Fall 2014.

Forget everything you think you know about global warming. The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism. The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.

 […] We have been told the market will save us, when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper every day. We have been told it’s impossible to get off fossil fuels when in fact we know exactly how to do it—it just requires breaking every rule in the “free-market” playbook: reining in corporate power, rebuilding local economies, and reclaiming our democracies.

 We have also been told that humanity is too greedy and selfish to rise to this challenge. In fact, all around the world, the fight for the next economy and against reckless extraction is already succeeding in ways both surprising and inspiring.

Jacket copy, This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein

 

thischangeseverything_collageThe premise of the project is that dealing with the climate crisis requires us to fundamentally rethink how we organize social and economic life. No doubt, this is scary and overwhelming. But this work has a hopeful dimension.

Imagining solutions to the climate crisis involves imagining solutions to a host of other social problems, from economic inequality to public health to job creation to indigenous rights—even to the quality of the food we eat. As the This Changes Everything team writes: “Climate change is more than an issue, it’s a message, one that is telling us that many of our culture’s most cherished ideas about our place in the world—from the quest for endless economic growth to the assumption of Western supremacy to the limitless capacity of humans to dominate nature—are no longer viable.” Rethinking Schools editorializes: “Confronting the climate emergency … demands that young people exercise their utopian imaginations to consider alternatives of all kinds.”

The team behind This Changes Everything understands the central role that education will play in enlisting students in the work of exploring the roots of the climate crisis, considering possible solutions, and coming to see themselves as climate justice activists. That’s where our This Changes Everything Writing Retreat comes in.

We hope to seed articles for Rethinking Schools magazine, and lesson plans that will be posted at the This Changes Everything and Zinn Education Project websites. Participants will come with either classroom-tested lessons relevant for addressing the climate justice themes in Naomi Klein’s forthcoming book This Changes Everything or detailed plans that can form the basis of materials that can be shared at the This Changes Everything and Zinn Education Project websites. We anticipate that this will be a weekend of lively conversation, focused writing, and at least the beginning of imaginative curriculum that will be shared with teachers throughout the English-speaking world.

christensen_bigelow

The K-12 teachers’ writing retreat will be led by Linda Christensen and Bill Bigelow. Christensen has taught for more than 40 years and directs the Oregon Writing Project. She is a Rethinking Schools editor, and is author of Reading, Writing, and Rising Up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word andTeaching for Joy and Justice. Bill Bigelow taught high school social studies for many years and now is the curriculum editor for Rethinking Schools and co-directs the Zinn Education Project. He is author or co-editor of many books including Rethinking Columbus, Rethinking Globalization, A People’s History for the Classroom, and the forthcoming A People’s Curriculum for the Earth: Teaching About the Environmental Crisis.

Dates and Details:

All lodging and food will be covered. Participants will be responsible for their own transportation to Portland, Oregon, although there will be some limited support for teachers for whom transportation costs would be a burden and make participation unlikely.

Participants must be able to attend the full retreat, which begins on Friday afternoon, Dec. 12 at 2 pm and runs to noon on Dec. 14, 2014.

Sept. 8    Applications are due by 11pm EST
Oct. 15   Notices sent out to applicants about selection decision
Dec. 12-14   Retreat

Application:

Please upload a Word or PDF document with responses to the following questions. The document should be a maximum of three pages with size 12 font, Times New Roman.

  • Personal statement. Briefly, please tell us a little about yourself. Include your teaching background, article and/or curriculum writing experience, and social/environmental justice activism. Feel free to add anything else you’d like to mention.
  • If you have taught about the environment and/or the climate crisis, please describe that work.
  • Why would you like to participate in the Zinn Education Project/This Changes Everything Writing Retreat?
  • Please tell us something about your formal writing experience—e.g., articles you’ve published, lessons or other curriculum you’ve authored, etc.
  • What is your involvement with social justice education activism and organizations—e.g., Rethinking Schools, the Zinn Education Project, Teaching for Change, the Teacher Activist Group network, teacher union activism, etc.?
  • Please include at least one sample of an article or piece of curriculum that you have written.
  • Because we want the Writing Retreat to be racially and ethnically diverse, please indicate how you identify racially and/or ethnically.

Please submit your application as a Word or PDF file through our online form.

Questions can be sent to retreat@zinnedproject.org.

Reposted from: http://zinnedproject.org/2014/08/this-changes-everything-writing-retreat/

Rethinking the 4th of July

Rethinking Schools editor Bill Bigelow wrote this post for the Zinn Education Project, encouraging teachers — and everyone — to use this July 4th as a time to consider a more multicultural (and less militaristic) approach to examining the birth of the United States of America. He highlights Ray Raphael’s article, “Re-examining the Revolution,” which was first published in Rethinking Schools, and is now posted at the Zinn Education Project.

Rethinking the 4th of July

In Portland, Oregon, where I live, the 4th of July holiday offers an excuse for a wonderful annual blues festival in Waterfront Park downtown. Unfortunately, in my neighborhood, it also provides cover for people to blow off fireworks that terrify young children and animals, and that turn the air thick with smoke and errant projectiles. Last year, the fire department here reported 172 fires sparked by toy missiles, defective firecrackers, and other items of explosive revelry.

But apart from the noise pollution, air pollution, and flying debris pollution, there is something profoundly inappropriate about blowing off fireworks at a time when the United States is waging war with real fireworks around the world. To cite just one example, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London found recently that U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan alone have killed more than 200 people, including at least 60 children. And, of course, the U.S. war in Afghanistan drags on and on. The pretend war of celebratory fireworks thus becomes part of a propaganda campaign that inures us—especially the children among us—to the real wars half a world away.

But the yahoo of fireworks also turns an immensely complicated time in U.S. history into a cartoon of miseducation. For example, check out Ray Raphael’s “Re-examining the Revolution” at the Zinn Education Project, an article that every history teacher should read before wading into the events leading up to 1776. Raphael analyzed 22 elementary, middle school, and high school texts and found them filled with inaccuracies—some merely silly, but others that leave students with important misunderstandings about U.S. history, and how social change does and does not happen.

Raphael offers some context for the Declaration of Independence:

In 1997, Pauline Maier published American Scripture, where she uncovered 90 state and local “declarations of independence” that preceded the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The consequence of this historical tidbit is profound: Jefferson was not a lonely genius conjuring his notions from the ether; he was part of a nationwide political upheaval.

Similarly, Raphael reports that

[I]n 1774 common farmers and artisans from throughout Massachusetts rose up by the thousands and overthrew all British authority.  In the small town of Worcester (only 300 voters), 4,622 militiamen from 37 surrounding communities lined both sides of Main Street and forced British-appointed officials to walk the gauntlet, hats in hand, reciting their recantations 30 times each so everyone could hear. There were no famous “leaders” for this event. The people elected representatives who served for one day only, the ultimate in term limits. “The body of the people” made decisions and the people decided that the old regime must fall.

As Raphael concludes, “Textbook authors and popular history writers fail to portray the great mass of humanity as active players, agents on their own behalf.” Instead, textbooks credit Great Men—Washington, Franklin, Jefferson—and render all others as “mere followers.”

Of course, there is lots more that complicates the events surrounding the 4th of July and the Revolutionary War. As Raphael notes, “not one of the elementary or middle school texts [I reviewed] even mentions the genocidal Sullivan campaign, one of the largest military offensives of the war, which burned Iroquois villages and destroyed every orchard and farm in its path to deny food to Indians.” (For use with students, see “George Washington: An American Hero?” in Rethinking Columbus, published by Rethinking Schools.) Nor do texts mention the indigenous resistance movements of the 1780s in response to American “settler” expansion, which Raphael calls “the largest coalitions of Native Americans in our history.”

Also included at the Zinn Education Project site is a link to Danny Glover delivering one of history’s most passionate denunciations of U.S. racism and hypocrisy: Frederick Douglass’s “The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro.” Howard Zinn introduces Glover at one of the remarkable “The People Speak” events. Douglass delivered the speech on July 5, 1852 in Rochester, New York, at a Declaration of Independence commemoration:

“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”

Douglass delivered his speech four years after the United States finished its war against Mexico to steal land and spread slavery, five years before the vicious Supreme Court Dred Scott decision, and nine years before the country would explode into civil war. His words call out through the generations to abandon the empty “shout of liberty and equality” on July 4, and to put away the fireworks and flags. In the spirit of Frederick Douglass, the Zinn Education Project urges teachers to use July 4 as a time to rethink how we equip students to reflect on the complicated birth of the United States of America.

Bill Bigelow (bill@rethinkingschools.org) is the curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools magazine and the co-director of the Zinn Education Project.