Yesterday I returned from a 3-day trip to San Antonio, Texas to take part in the annual meeting of the National Council for History Education. I am both a member of the organization and serve on its board of directors.
This year our conference theme was “Myth, Memory, and Monuments.” Individual sessions and keynote addresses a wide range of subjects around this theme. I could not have been more encouraged by what I saw given my work over the past few years traveling around the country to work with history educators and students on how to teach and think about the Confederate monument debate.
During the first night’s plenary session I suggested that this subject is ready made for history educators, who are constantly being asked to justify their discipline. We need to claim ownership of this subject. But, of course, that is far different from feeling sufficiently prepared to tackle one of these controversies and/or going into a classroom with the full support of the administration.
As one of my fellow history educators put it yesterday, we can’t ask our students to grapple with these issues until we have done so.
It was so incredibly encouraging to watch teachers share their ideas with one another over the past few days. I left San Antonio reinvigorated. I don’t know of any other organization like this that has tackled such a timely and important topic as its conference theme. I also left proud to be a member of NCHE and even prouder to serve on its board of directors.
And to top it all off, while waiting in the Dallas airport for my flight to Boston I had a really nice chat with historian David McCullough. We talked about his new book project on the settlement of Ohio and the importance of history education.
If you work in the field of history education please consider becoming a member. See you next year in Washington, D.C.