A Unified and Usable Shared Past

Submitted By:
Jonathan Gold, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI

"A Story Of Us?" by Ramtin Arablouei, Rund Abdelfatah, Tamim Ansary
NPR's Throughline, February 3, 2022

An interview with Tamim Ansary, the author of the brilliant book The Invention of Yesterday: A 50,000-Year History of Human Culture, Conflict, and Connection, is the focus of this episode of NPR's essential history podcast, Throughline. The deeper subtext of the episode, however, is the ongoing, cultural, war-inflected discourse around history curricula and our collective grappling for a unified and usable shared past. The insightful context provided by hosts Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah is a helpful crash course in what is really at stake in these culture war controversies as well as their overlap with the broader discourse in the study of history. Ansary, himself a veteran textbook editor and historian, brings a lively and broad perspective, helpfully situating these controversies in the disciplines of history, anthropology, and sociology. For school leaders and teachers looking to broaden their own perspectives on these contemporary controversies and to develop new tools for helping students, families, and colleagues understand the vastness of human experience, this episode is an essential listen.

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