“Teachers Are Nation Builders”

Today was one of those days that I live for as a historian and teacher.  I spent the day in Virginia Beach with a group of 4th and 5th grade teachers as part of a workshop on the Civil War and historical memory.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Fitz Brundage sketch out some of the salient commemorative themes during the postwar period while I worked with the group on analyzing a collection of primary sources and discussing how to approach some of these themes in the classroom.  The teachers were enthusiastic throughout both sessions.  It was impressive given that the material can be incredibly difficult and even a bit draining to those who are approaching these issues for the first time.   We have amazing teachers in our classrooms and we need to support them.

The president was right to describe teachers as “nation builders.”  I wish the general public had the image of teachers sitting around engaged in serious discussion as part of their professional development rather than the stereotypical views so closely associated with our worst fears about public education.  So, what were we really doing today in Virginia Beach?  We were doing what we do every day in our respective classrooms, which is making a G-d Damn Difference.  Now what about you?

CraterThanks for reading this post. Scroll down, leave a comment and join the conversation. Follow me on Twitter and join the Civil War Memory Facebook group for continuous updates and additional links to newsworthy items from around the interwebs. Stay up to date by subscribing to this blog’s feed. You can also check out my recently published book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder.

10 comments… add one
  • Eric Leonard Jan 26, 2011


  • Bob Huddleston Jan 26, 2011

    Thanks, Kevin. I understand you – I have been married for 46 years to a wonderful woman who has spent her entire professional life teaching first kids and then teaching teachers. It is so sad that we as a society do not value you, anything to avoid paying for our future. Our Sacramento granddaughter gets a week off in February because her teachers are being furloughed. At least we will bring her to Washington, at her request, to learn about presidents. And it is almost as bad here in Denver. Keep up the good work!

    • Kevin Levin Jan 27, 2011

      It comes down to the fact that good teachers are essential for the maintenance of a free society.

  • Neil Hamilton Jan 27, 2011


    Unarmed soldiers embroiled in the most important battle anyone can imagine.

    The teaching of our children.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 27, 2011


  • James F. Epperson Jan 27, 2011

    My mother taught school after she and Dad split, and though she was generally conservative, education issues could make her seem like a raging liberal—she even voiced support for a teachers strike when we moved to CT after she re-married.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 27, 2011

      That’s music to my ears.

  • Matt McKeon Jan 27, 2011

    For the last 20 years, I’ve taught students with emotional disabilities. There were days I hated it, and days I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Can’t say I was ever really bored.

  • Dan Wright Jan 27, 2011

    Something that I find curious in America today is the trend toward home schooling.
    I guess parents think they can do a better job of educating kids than people trained in education. And maybe some of them can. But it seems like the kids would be missing a nice chunk of growing up, socializing and being part of a larger world.

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