Leading my Civil War Memory Class in a Discussion at the Lee Monument in Richmond
Today I am teaching my final class on the American Civil War at the St. Anne’s – Belfield School. It’s not going to be a memorable class by any stretch of the imagination; we’ve been looking at film for much of the trimester and today we need to wrap up the last scene of Shirley Temple’s “The Littlest Rebel.” That said, I am feeling a little sad and just a bit sentimental. I count myself as one of the lucky ones in that for the past 7 years I’ve been able to offer a high school level course on a subject that I spend so much time with outside of class. No, it doesn’t really seem like a job at all. I have had some wonderful students over the past few years and a couple of them even went on to study Civil War history in college. Let’s face it, if you can’t excite high school students with the Civil War you really have no business being in a classroom.
More importantly, my personal interest in the subject allowed me to get to know my students that much better. And in the end that’s what it is all about. As important as the content is in its own right, what we are doing as teachers is reaching out and making connections with our students. The subject is the backdrop on which we work. At the same time and to a great extent over the past ten years I’ve measured my personal growth based on the quality of my teaching and the connections that it has allowed me to make. I am surely going to need that again at some point.
Thanks to all my students, who have helped me to better understand THE most important event in American history.