Once again the Civil War blogosphere has descended into the tired debate of who is and who is not a historian. The latest foray into this web of conceptual analysis can be found at Brooks Simpson’s site in response to the recent editorial about Civil War reenacting. I have very little patience for these discussions because they get us nowhere. I’ve had others debate whether I am a historian, which for the most part has been used to question the legitimacy of what I write specifically on this blog as opposed to anything else I’ve done over the past few years.
While I will never lose sleep over this issue, one thing that is not up for debate is my own self-identity as a high school history teacher. You will notice that the old tagline is once again visible under the header. I cracked a little smile yesterday when I decided to do this. When my wife and I first moved to Boston in July 2011 I was excited about the prospect of a year away from the classroom. My goal was to finish the Crater book and make a large dent in the Black Confederates book and a host of other projects. Things didn’t work out as planned. Sure, I finished the book and I was able to stay fairly productive, but there were periods of inactivity and some of it was accompanied by a good deal of depression. No one pushed me to do anything and at times I found it debilitating.
It’s not that I eventually lost my focus, but that I was cut off from the very activity that gives meaning to my love for the study of history. More than anything else it keeps me sharp, forces me to learn a subject in a way that doesn’t allow for cutting corners, and keeps me in touch with young adults, who I love working with. In the end, my passion for the subject is wrapped up in being able to share what I know and don’t know and vice-versa. I never want to be cut off from other people as I’ve been these past two years.
So, come September it’s back to the classroom full time. This year I am teaching two new classes, including one that will allow me to draw parallels between how Germans remember the Holocaust and Civil War memory. I’ve spent most of this summer reading histories of the Holocaust. I am once again looking forward to sharing what I do in the classroom on this blog and I suspect that having structure once again in my life will help to increase my productivity in areas beyond the classroom. This move is not without some anxiety, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Note: The two premium themes that I use for this site were updated this week and I am still trying to figure out which direction to go. You can expect to see changes to the layout in the coming weeks.