I have stated on this blog and to colleagues that I have the best job in the world; I get to teach great students everyday I arrive on campus. I have decided to devote a blog post every Friday to teaching. I hope to address a lesson, a discussion, or introduce my students and their interests — which I am sure is just history. In preparing to converse with my most excellent students, I get to read books, draft notes, and review journal articles that address the most recent trends in the field. I also get to travel to professional meetings and conferences where others much like myself participate and exchange ideas. Furthermore, many of the papers I write derive from a particular question or conclusion from my classes.
This is the advantage of teaching bright students who, for the most part, enjoy participating in a discussion about history. My teaching style is Socratic: I ask questions in hopes that students will seek answers from each other before I inject my thoughts or take on the matter; many students do not mind my historical take…. Though, at times it is different from theirs. Moreover, my students are willing to give me a chance to challenge the works that we read or the historical notions they have about matters of class, race, historical romanticism, and status; I too have worked to allow them the same voice in our conversations. As one student pointed out about my classes, there is only one method of instruction… though I will mix that method up with various activities: Discussions.
Below are pictures taken by Shelby See of the yearbook staff and a great student in my AP European History class; I teach two sections of AP European History, three sections of AP US History, and a section of World History. All of my classes are conducted around a table. After visiting a number of elite private schools that use the Harkness Method, I concluded years ago this is the best way to teach a class. (read about the Harkness Method here and here and here)