Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Becoming a Historian: One Teacher’s Journey

October 19, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

After reading James M. Banner Jr.’s Commentary “‘Teachers of Ambition’” (Sept. 8, 2004), I truly wondered what type of teachers he had read about or come in contact with that he believes they do not possess professional ambition. Does he have criteria for what makes a “better historian” or “better teacher”? If he does, he didn’t include them in his essay. My fellow schoolteachers are ambitious people and good storytellers (which usually makes for great historians), in addition to being great communicators and conveyers of knowledge.

For every person, there is a journey in the quest of becoming a historian. For me, it began with a trip to Europe I took during college. Grasping history from a book is so difficult, but in European cities and countrysides, history is all around you. Most teachers I know have limited backgrounds in American history, probably because, for many Americans, it is hard to see the impact of history in such a young country. Going to Europe made me more interested in and aware of the stories of America.

Visiting Williamsburg, Va., is one of the greatest experiences I have had in American history. The re-enactments presented there and the staged “conversations” with historical figures like Thomas Jefferson make ambitions soar and ideas expand. But far too few teachers get to experience all that Williamsburg has to offer, as I have. The re-creation of period trials, the late-night storytelling, and the ability to learn the social aspects of Colonial life are outstanding learning experiences.

Did it ever dawn on anyone that even though our country is rich in history, that history is not as apparent or accessible as it is in older cultures and societies? If most teachers applied for grants to immerse themselves in history so that they could gain knowledge and debate and discuss it with collegial staff members, they would be accused of simply trying to get a great vacation.

I don’t think any historian has the right to decide who is or isn’t a historian. Mr. Banner’s implication that most teachers lack ambition, vision, and a sense of history offended me. Why in education is everything one-size-fits-all? I’m thankful my journey does not include people with such a narrow vision of others.

Anne Tunney

Erie, Pa.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes with Teacher-Student Relationships
Explore strategies for strengthening teacher-student relationships and hear how districts are putting these methods into practice to support positive student outcomes.
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Transform Teaching and Learning with AI
Increase productivity and support innovative teaching with AI in the classroom.
Content provided by Promethean
Curriculum Webinar Computer Science Education Movement Gathers Momentum. How Should Schools React?
Discover how schools can expand opportunities for students to study computer science education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: September 21, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: September 7, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: August 31, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: August 24, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read