This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Rethinking Schools and the Zinn Education Project have created an amazing array of classroom resources, guides, and book suggestions for broader understanding of two current and relevant movements – women’s history, and the labor movement and the Wisconsin struggle.
According to Labor historian, Mark Naison, the movement of workers that began in Wisconsin and is now spreading to other states is "the most important labor struggle in the United States in the 21st Century."
The current uprising of workers in Wisconsin and other states presents a powerful opportunity to teach students about what the protests are about, and why their teachers and neighbors are joining the struggle. It’s an opportunity to critically examine issues, and to model for students responsible civic action and engagement in the political process.
As members of teacher unions, we have an additional responsibility, summarized by the late Howard Zinn in an interview published in Transforming Teacher Unions:
"If teacher unions want to be strong and well-supported, it’s essential that they not only be teacher unionists but teachers of unionism. We need to create a generation of students who support teachers and the movements of teachers for their rights."
Check out Rethinking Schools‘ website for labor resources by grade and share your own recommendations.
2. The Zinn Education Project: March is of course Women’s History Month. Make it meaningful with these classroom resources and teaching guides including:
- Teaching about the 1908 Textile Strike for first graders (really!);
- A 17-page teaching guide on Seneca Falls;
- How to promote interior monologues in the classroom using women’s history; and
- A critical analysis of children’s books about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Download all these guides plus find lots of book suggestions by grade and subject – all for free.
Post your comments here about how well they worked in your classroom.