My Final Civil War Class

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.

How ’bout them apples, Boston!

13 comments… add one
  • Bryan Knysh Feb 25, 2011 @ 8:03

    Hopefully you have motivated your students to learn more about the Civil War, even if they don’t choose to study it in college. Several years ago I created a Civil War section on a children’s education web site ( As a Canadian who immigrated to the US, I never studied the civil war in school. Researching this topic was my first exposure to the Civil War, and it really got me hooked. Since then I’ve read Shelby Foote’s collection of books on the Civil War. Not only is the Civil War an enlightening study of the people and country at that time, it also teaches that how economics, politics and human nature can come together in good and bad ways. Best Wishes, Bryan Knysh, editor

  • Laura Robertson Feb 24, 2011 @ 10:19

    What you have done with this class has changed the lives and perspectives of your students. I know that it has been a formative experience for so many, and you will leave a big hole next year. It is a tremendous gift to all of us in Independent schools to be able to offer courses that show students to value of scholarship and how passion can be turned into academic action and how ideas change the world. I hope that you have the opportunity sometime in the future to make this kind of an impact even if it isn’t at our school. Bravo, Mr. Levin.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2011 @ 10:23


      The same could be said for what you’ve done during your time at STAB. One of the great joys of my time here has been team teaching with you. Thanks, Laura.

  • Larry Cebula Feb 24, 2011 @ 8:02

    Your students have been lucky to have you.

    And so much of what you do here at the blog has come from your experiences in the classroom. I wonder how the blog will change with you move. Revolutionary War Memory?

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2011 @ 8:04

      Hi Larry,

      I have no doubt that the Revolution will creep into my site my goal is to remain focused on the Civil War. Civil War history and memory is very much alive here in Virginia, but I wonder what I will find once I look into things more closely in New England. I bet that there is a great deal to explore.

      • Sherree Feb 24, 2011 @ 13:06

        I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about Boston—good, bad, or indifferent. Get on up there and start writing, lol!

        Again, Kevin, thanks for everything, and the best of luck to you and Micheala

      • Dan Feb 24, 2011 @ 16:49

        When you get to Boston, stop in at our National Historical Park, we can talk about the revolutionary beginnings of the Civil War.

        • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2011 @ 17:07

          You can tell me all about it as long as you give me some advice that will help me to secure a job. 🙂

  • Jonathan Dresner Feb 24, 2011 @ 6:38

    You’ve done great service to your students over the years, no question. More history teachers like you at the secondary level would make my life so much better…..

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2011 @ 6:46

      Thanks, Jonathan.

  • Dan Wright Feb 24, 2011 @ 5:22

    It’s clear that you are knowledgeable and passionate about the CW. And from time to time I’ve wondered what it would be like to sit in on one of your classes.
    The main reason I visit this blog is for the learning experience. The writer and a lot of the people who comment know more about this critical event than I do. So I always come away with something.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2011 @ 5:30

      Thanks Dan. I appreciate the kind words.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next post:

Previous post: