I am excited about finishing my paper on the 1980s as a significant historical period in the United States History survey course. I usually teach this decade with great passion and interest seeing that I still listen to much of the music, and can recall every member of the Brat Pack that shaped teen pop culture.. I have been doing some work towards completing a journal article this summer on the historical impact of rap music and the socioeconomic conditions that shaped race relations during the 1980s; much of this piece looks at the pedagogical significance of teaching the 80s via music and popular culture. I will make a greater attempt to spend more time teaching this decade this year. Plus, it best reflects the community and neighborhood I grew up in at this time.
I have my eyes set on a few meetings to share my work; I love getting feedback from colleagues at professional meetings before I submit a work. One such meeting on the ole radar is the 2010 OAH conference. Two of my papers were accepted at professional meetings last year. This is one I am most hopeful of too; I suspect I am because this paper truly reflects my teaching of this period for the past five years. Students will tell you that the teaching of the 1980 allows me to show my true colors: Introducing my favorite hard core rappers of the 80s such as NWA, Public Enemy, and Eric B & Rakim. I also worked Michael Jackson into this piece long before he became a posthumous sensation.
A number of professional historical and educational associations have shifted their philosophy and expectation on how one presents his or her work; in the past, the typical model was a quick 20 – 25 minute read of the paper, followed by a question and answer session… usually directed by a session chair. I try to get my final draft to the session chair weeks in advance so that he or she can read the work carefully, thus allowing time to reflect on the work in order to promote some type of discussion once each presenter has read his/her work. To keep some semblance of life present during a reading, I show slides to enhance my reading and drive home my premise. The paradoxical part about attending a conference full of teachers and independent scholars is that we have been known to model the worst pedagogical methods. I have watched presenters disseminate content to peers in ways that would not be acceptable in the classroom. However, I have seen teachers present papers in ways that made me say wow!
In the picture above, I am presenting a paper addressing the concept of trans-racial identity and feminist equality in the Atlantic world. My paper went on to address the international organization of women and their rights in the era of sexual emancipation and the rise of anti-slave societies. After reading portions of my paper that addressed this basic premise, I went on to show a brief series of slides showcasing the significance of political borders… by land and sea, as well as the role of slavery, religion, and gender as constructs of the Atlantic world.
Because the delivery of content is so important at professional meetings, organizations such as the AHA and OAH have adopted new standards such as interactive sessions and poster sessions — though the reading of a paper is still customary. The OAH noted:
…invites the submission of panels and presentations that deal with these and other issues and themes in American history. We welcome teaching sessions, particularly those involving the audience as active participants or those that reflect collaborative partnerships among teachers, historians, and history educators at all levels. We urge presenters to continue the ongoing transition from simply reading papers to more actively “teaching” the topic of their sessions. Roundtables and workshops offer an excellent format for this. We prefer to receive proposals for complete sessions, but will consider individual paper proposals as well.