Having now taught history for the last seven years at both the high school and college level, I have only come to believe even more in the importance and transformative power that comes from learning about and understanding the past. This starts with high expectations for students. In my classroom, history is not "dead" and is a verb more so than a noun. In other words, students are not just taught history ("the facts"--though that does help set the foundation); they also “do” history through inquiry-based lessons that center on logical reasoning and that require them to use historical skills including the weighing of evidence, comparison, and cause and effect. After all, being able to fully learn from the past involves being in search of the closest version of the truth as possible.
While thinking like and doing the work of an historian is not always easy, it is highly rewarding and helps ensure my ultimate goal of making history more enjoyable (dare I say fun?), thought-provoking, and relevant outside of my classes. The skills and knowledge students learn while engaging in history and historical thinking (i.e. stronger reading and writing, improved ability to recognize, analyze and interpret valid evidence and use it to support an argument) are transferable well beyond their understanding of history. Ideally, students will find them highly useful in subsequent classes and in their lives after graduation as they become part of the next generation of leaders and problem-solvers!
*B.A., History/Social Studies Education, N.C State University
*M.A., History, N.C. State University
*Ph.D., U.S. History, University of North Carolina at Greensboro