Statement of Orientation

Statement of Orientation to History and Teaching

My philosophy on teaching at the university level contends that no one person can "teach" another person history. The instructor must instead introduce the student to the variety of experiences and dynamics that have comprised the past and its telling. My goal as a "teacher" is to encourage students to comprehend and assess critically how past forces have shaped who we are and the world in which we live.

Accordingly, I work to develop analytical skills within the student. Utilizing the "history equation," which Sheri Bartlett Browne and I devised, I emphasize that history is comprised not only of "facts," but also of various viewpoints that require thoughtful scrutiny. Encouraging students to question the past and the way in which it is presented leads to their being able to examine critically events, decisions, and the information they receive in their own world. To exercise these skills rests on their ability to read and listen actively, capabilities that the instructor must constantly stimulate.

Helping the student to communicate effectively, both on a written and oral level, is another task I take seriously. Research has shown that skills essential to the historian, particularly the facility to communicate one's ideas and thoughts succinctly and in a cogent manner, are essential abilities that not everyone has mastered. These skills should be emphasized in our classes.

As a discipline, history is neither irrelevant nor unconnected to the world in which we live. For those students who encounter history at the university, I hope that all leave feeling that they have not only acquired a better understanding of the past, but the knowledge and tools to comprehend the present and future as well. A compass that tells us not only where we are and the direction from which we have come, history can also show the best way to get where we have to go.






[people [newspapers, journals, photographs, [backgrounds, purposes,

places state papers, motion pictures, treaties, perspectives]

events] speeches, oral accounts, diaries,

legislation, music] HIDDEN

HISTORY = ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ X TRANSCRIPTS = “TRUTH”

[myth, folklore, (i.e.,


RESEARCH ANALYSIS EDUCATIONAL collective interpretation)

( what are the (what is the historian ENVIRONMENT popular

interests of the trying to prove?) (how does the historian’s memory]

historian?) background affect his or

her conclusions?)


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