Congratulations to high school history teacher Kevin Levin, whose Civil War Memory site celebrated its first blogiversary yesterday. How lucky his students are to have a teacher who’s so engaged with the complex contemporary understandings, academic and popular, of the Civil War era. For example, he recently asked his students to take the WPA slave narratives and compare two interviews with the same person conducted by different interviewers. Today before breakfast he has already weighed in on the Confederate flag as fashion statement. Levin is teaching history as critical thinking, and the rest of us are fortunate to get to tag along.
I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about the implications of that last line. As I mentioned the other day, one of the most enjoyable aspects of my blogging experience has been the interaction with a fairly large group of readers–many of them teachers, professional historians, and a broad group of Civil War enthusiasts. I’ve been teaching in some capacity since 1994. I love the classroom dynamic and the chance to excite and broaden the intellectual scope of my students, not to mention my own. Most importantly, teaching is meaningful work; what happens in the classroom, when done right, has a value in and of itself. Those of you out there who teach know what I am talking about.
Blogging has worked as a natural extension of my teaching; in short, the classroom has become much larger. That people have been so supportive of my on-line efforts has naturally led to the question of how I might adjust my career in a way that would put me in contact with a wider and larger group of people. I am thinking broadly here. Perhaps work in a historical society or museum doing educational outreach would prove interesting or working with teachers on various interpretive skills that would make them better historians. It is all very exciting and just a little nerve racking.
Of course, I will keep you informed as I think through the issues involved. And I welcome the advice of my readers.