“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I am Ms. deVries – Mizsdafreeze, if you like – I am writing this blog about being (trying to be) a history teacher who teaches history from a global perspective and takes  into account different narratives. The name Mizsdafreeze is meant as a metonym for being a white teacher at an urban or international school.

The aim of this blog is to share, with an English and Dutch talking audience, my views on the biases of our current day society. I am a historian in Colonial and Global history; I obtained my Master’s with a thesis on prescribed gender roles for women abolitionists in the US and Netherlands. Currently, I am teaching at and international school, therefore my lesson plans are in English as that is the lingua franca at my school.

In my writings the focus is on education and colonial history, I am especially interested in the way history is taught all over the world. Although I dare to claim that history is been written by victors everywhere, hence certain stories have not been told for the longest time. As a history teacher, it is my task to bring these lost stories to the fore and make history a subject interesting for everyone.

I am born and raised in the Netherlands but spend some time teaching and studying abroad. During my time in the United States, I learned a lot about the “whitewashing” of history, and I started blogging about my experiences for the Dutch NGO Stichting Gedeeld Verleden, Gezamenlijke Toekomst. There were many reactions on these blogs, therefore I decided to continue blogging and sharing these insights with anyone interested. These reflections can be found in the folder Writings

Most important for me is acknowledging the distortion of the past by historians, and the effect of that in our societies nowadays. History education plays a significant role in the creation of dominant narratives, which leave no or limited room for counternarratives to emerge. My aim, as a history teacher, is to teach about the people instead of the leaders; to teach about the suppressed instead of the suppressors; to teach about what has been lost instead of conquered; to teach about gender instead of sex; to teach about different heritages instead of taking one as the norm. Basically, to teach as much as possible in an inclusive manner. I share lessons I taught to inspire others, and/or to apply in the classroom right away. These lesson plans can be found in the folder People’s History in the Classroom.

Nations are not communities and never have been. The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals the fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such as world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.

—– Howard Zinn “A People’s History of the United States”

Many people have been inspired by Zinn’s astonishing work on the history of the United States, told from the outsiders’ perspective. It has led to a shift in thinking about history and the teaching of history from just one point of view. History teachers in the United States have to opportunity to use resources like the Zinn Education Project  and the book A People’s History for the Classroom to design lessons, around the American curriculum, in which the subaltern have a voice.

In the Netherlands, perhaps Europe in general, there has not been such a movement coming from and for educators yet. This blog, therefore, would like to function as a starting point to share lessons that present the narrative of the oppressed, the enslaved, workers and women. Please feel free to use/adapt/recreate these, and feel inspired to apply a similar approach.

PS. Your feedback is more than welcome

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