I had a wonderful time at the Civil War Trust’s annual Teachers Conference in Nashville. Garry Adelmann and the rest of the staff did an incredible job of putting together a first-rate group of speakers. It was a bit hectic having to give three talks in two days, but the chance to interact with my fellow history teachers made it all the more enjoyable. The feedback on both my talk on Internet literacy and using Glory in the classroom were very positive. As many of you know I used the black Confederate myth as a case study for the first talk and I was pleased that we did not get hung up on the subject as opposed to remaining focused on the crucial issue of how to effectively judge websites. I got the sense that most of the teachers who attended the session had not given the issue much thought, which leads me to believe that much more attention needs to be given in workshops and seminars.
With all of the negative press surrounding public education it is heartening to see 140 history teachers take time from their summer vacations to improve their understanding of the Civil War as well as their teaching skills. Thousands of history teachers will take part in any number of workshops this summer and yet our society remains fixated on the scandals. None of the teachers that I met this past week are out to influence the politics of their students or impose notions of social justice in their classrooms. They just want to work on becoming better history teachers and for that they have my utmost respect. We would do well to remember that the overwhelming majority of k-12 teachers work under difficult conditions, including very little pay, overcrowded classrooms and underfunded schools.
I want to thank the Civil War Trust for giving me another opportunity to work with these people. This is the work I want to do and which gives me the greatest satisfaction. If you live in the Boston area you ought to consider attending their first Regional Teacher Institute on October 8-9. You will not be disappointed.