Challenges of Teaching the Civil War
Next week I will be heading down to Richmond to take part in the American Civil War Museum’s 3-day conference, “Lincoln and the South.” at the University of Richmond. It’s an all-star line-up of Civil War scholars, including William J. Cooper, Michael Burlingame, David Blight, Brian Dirck – you get the picture. I will be leading a discussion on Saturday morning for teachers on the challenges of teaching the Civil War and Lincoln in the classroom. The teachers will range from kindergarten through the college level.
I am working on a set of questions for the participants to consider concerning some of the most challenging aspects of teaching the subject. What are the most difficult aspects of the Civil War to teach and why? What are some of the most common assumptions that students bring to the classroom regarding the war and what are some effective ways to challenge those assumptions? Finally, what biases/assumptions do we as teachers bring to the classroom and to what extent does our own discomfort with some of the more divisive issues shape the way we teach? Finally, I hope to introduce some strategies for teachers to employ to address some of these issues.
What do you think?
[photo of me teaching on Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia]