Bill Bigelow

Bill Bigelow taught high school social studies in Portland, Ore. for almost 30 years. He is the curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools and the co-director of the Zinn Education Project. This project offers free materials to teach people’s history and an “If We Knew Our History” article series. Bigelow is author or co-editor of numerous books, including A People’s History for the Classroom and The Line Between Us: Teaching About the Border and Mexican Immigration, and most recently, A People's Curriculum for the Earth: Teaching Climate Change and the Environmental Crisis.

Articles by this author

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Monday, January 28, 2013 - 7:18am
The Poison We Never Talk About in School
The most dangerous substance in the world is barely mentioned in the school curriculum. Coal. According to the International Energy Agency, burning coal creates more greenhouse gases than any other source—including oil. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and arguably the world’s foremost climatologist, has called coal “the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on the planet.”
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Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - 12:00pm
Rethinkin' Lincoln on the 150th Birthday of the Emancipation Proclamation
Here's a history quiz to use with people you run into today: Ask them who ended slavery.
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Saturday, October 6, 2012 - 8:07am
Rethinking Columbus: Towards a True People's History
This past January, almost exactly 20 years after its publication, Tucson schools banned the book I co-edited with Bob Peterson, Rethinking Columbus .
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Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 8:40am
It’s Constitution Day! Time to Teach Obedience or History?
Pearson-Prentice Hall’s high school textbook, United States History , opens its chapter on the Constitution with this Daniel Webster quote: “We may be tossed upon an ocean where we can see no land—not, perhaps, the sun and stars. But there is a chart and a compass for us to study, to consult, and to obey.
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Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 11:39am
Howard Zinn at 90 -- Lessons from the People's Historian
This Friday -- August 24 -- would have been the 90th birthday of the great historian and activist Howard Zinn , who died in 2010. Zinn did not merely record history, he made it: as a professor at Spelman College in the 1950s and early 1960s, where he was ultimately fired for his outspoken support of students in the Civil Rights Movement, and specifically the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); as a critic of the U.S. war in Vietnam, and author of the first book calling for an immediate U.S.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 9:14am
Hot Enough for You? Time to Teach Against Fossil Fuels
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve been spared most of the brutal weather experienced in the rest of the country. Throughout the United States, in the month of June alone, 3,200 daytime high temperature records were broken or tied. In Washington, D.C., an 11-day stretch of temperatures above 95 degrees is the longest since records have been kept. The weird and deadly mid-Atlantic storm—the “land hurricane”—took the lives of 23 people and left 4 million without electricity. Colorado has suffered through the worst forest fires in the state’s history.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 12:07pm
Repressive Book-Banning from Johannesburg to Tucson
On Jan. 13, journalist Jeff Biggers contacted me with the news that the book I co-edited with Bob Peterson, Rethinking Columbus , had been banned in the schools of Tucson, Arizona, as part of that state’s suppression of the Mexican American Studies program.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 8:06am
Changing the Climate in Our Schools
Maybe you've heard. We are facing a climate crisis that threatens life on our planet. Climate scientists are unequivocal: We are changing the world in deep, measurable, dangerous ways -- and the pace of this change will accelerate dramatically in the decades to come. Then again, if you've been a middle school or high school student recently, you may not know this.
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Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 11:03am
The Real Irish American Story Not Taught in Schools
"Wear green on St. Patrick's Day or get pinched." That pretty much sums up the Irish American "curriculum" that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing.
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Thursday, December 29, 2011 - 11:14am
‘Repeat After Me: The United States Is Not an Imperialist Country—Oh, and Don’t Get Emotional About War’
You may have seen that an administrative law judge in Arizona, Lewis Kowal, just upheld the decree by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction that Tucson’s Mexican American Studies program violates state law. Judge Kowal found that the Tucson program was teaching Latino history and culture “in a biased, political, and emotionally charged manner.” According to CNN, one lesson that the judge objected to taught that the historic treatment of Mexican Americans was “marked by the use of force, fraud and exploitation.”
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