One of the things I most love about rainy days are the countless hours of sitting in my study and reading a great book. Do not get me wrong, I love watching television as well; however, how many people really watch T.V. during the summer months. By May we have seen everything except for a third re-run. Seeing that I have two papers to finish, I have very little time to waste. Currently, I am preparing to present a paper at the AP National Conference titled “The Impact of Religion, Tradition, and Industry on the Plight of Women.” This paper was born out of an AP European History class discussion on the nature of sexuality and its ability to shape the domestic home. In preparation for this class discussion, I had students read Edward Shorter’s article on Men, Women, and Sex. I was not surprised to find that this article sparked the best class discussion of the year. Even those students who failed to read the piece felt as though they missed out on something great. The paper that I am currently writing is a combination of content derived from other scholars who have published on this issue, along with some pedagogical suggestions. I find the latter to be more complex than the former. College level history texts address an array of controversial topics regarding sexuality. If you teach at a conservative religious school such as I, the challenge is presenting the material for the great content it has to offer without offending too many people.I am presenting this as part of a panel made up of other leaders in the field of European studies. The session is titled “Social Class and Gender in the AP European History Course.” Chairing the panel will be Larry Beaber, who works for Educational Testing Service (ETS) out of Princeton, NJ; Jessica Young of the Oak Park and River Forest School in Chicago; and lastly, George Munro, a Russian scholar who teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University. George also serves as the Chief Reader for the AP exams – yes, he is a big fish. As always, we will probably start the conference trip with a nice meal at some expensive restaurant in downtown Orlando.With the exception of Larry, George, Jessica, and I will split the session time to give our presentations. Hopefully, there will be some time for Q & A. George’s topic is on the formal class system of the Tsarist regime in Russia. Jessica will be presenting on the intersection of social class and gender in the 19th century. The meat of what I will address deals with the impact of religion, industry, and patriarchy on the structure of the 19th century home. I hope to showcase wifely submission to societal expectations. Examples will involve sexuality and sexual practices as a method of gender competition, child rearing and other domestic expectations, along with a brief analysis of shifts that served as an impetus for empowering women within and outside of the home.
Why do this?
I concluded years ago that I became a better teacher when I took more initiative to do some research and writing for not only a conference, but in preparation for my classes. With a reduced teaching load for the first time in two years, I am hoping to take my research and teaching to a new level. The winners in all of this will clearly be my students. I will also present a panel session (with George, Larry, & Jessica) on the nature of the AP European History exam and the Atlantic Market Thesis – another paper that is almost complete. Because I serve on the committee that writes the European History exam, the College Board asked us to address the nature of our work. Moreover, we hope to give participants some instruction as to the problems we are seeing amongst students. As for the Atlantic Market Thesis, well let us just say that it is the driving force in my European History course. Students have come to appreciate this pedagogical approach to teaching European History. The Atlantic Market session will be a solo act.