A New School Year

Friday September 9, 2016 was another first day of school for me. As a historian, teacher, activist, son, older brother, husband, and father to Abbey, I am excited to do what I most love — engage the minds of my students. This will be my finest year. I am a product of great teachers. For the past number of years, I have dedicated a year to someone or “ones.” I would like to honor my high school English teacher — Laurie Norton, who represents what makes my school what it is. ACA has been her life and I love her for being a part of a team of teachers that shaped me into the intellectual monster that I am, but also the husband that I am today. My first graduation. Thank you, Ms. Norton.


My Classroom Visit

I spent my AM visiting the English Department. Steph Holmes — a friend and colleague invited me into her III rd form English class to discuss race and religion. Her students were great. She was great as she connected my talk to their study of the “Color Purple.”

Holm's Class

Above is a picture she shared and her thoughts on social media about my visit:

“A big thanks to Mr. Edward Carson for his lesson “Jesus was a Black Man from the Hood.” The conversation enhanced our study of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, and more importantly, he challenged us to consider the relationships between religion and race, power, class, gender and sexual orientation–as well as the origins of those relationships, how they are depicted in art and literature, and the impact on contemporary American culture. You’re always welcome in my classroom, Eddie!”

Teaching the Atlantic Market Thesis


I have taught this before, and as my students will tell you, it is a staple in my history course. I started the session off by presenting an illustration that conceptualizes the growth of European modernity and the birth of what Arnold Toynbee would call the “Industrial Revolution,” as students looked at the transformation from Lynda Shaffer’s article Southernization to what is called Westernization.

“The Industrial Revolution”is a term coined by Toynbee in the late 1800s and used by Marxist and socialist historians to attack “the captains of industry” and expose “the conditions of the working classes;” after World War II, conservative social scientists like Rostow used Britain as model for industrial “take-off.” Recent scholarship suggests the story is not so simple. See e.g. Peter Sterns.

I worked to draw a conclusion on the relationship between European constitutionalism, mercantilism, geo politics, and the expansion of capitalism. Because of these factors and a number of others, the British middle class promulgated the growth of Atlantic slavery while modeling a new economic paradigm that the French bourgeoisie and nobility would desire. Unlike the traditional Marxist’s interpretation of the revolution that claimed it started as a matter of class conflict between the third estate (peasants & bourgeoisie) and the first and second estates, recent interpretations claim the revolution was a result of the Atlantic market system. Feudal lands and titles no longer carried the wealth that the Atlantic market offered. With an ancient system in existence that prevented the French nobility from prospering in this newly minted Atlantic market, the second and third estate unified to overthrow the French ancient class system. The change in market forces ultimately contributed to the demise of feudalism in Western Europe, though this process was much slower for the East.

Besides the colonial wars fought for geo-political gain in the Atlantic market, the dawn of neo slavery emerged. Paradoxically speaking, this institution heightened during a period in which the literature addressed both natural rights and racial inferiority. I believe the process of understanding European history from 1450 to 1815 rest on students’ understanding of the Atlantic market.

Historical Thinking Skills Text

















History teachers should be excited about the text John Irish and I are releasing via Norton Publisher; it addresses the historical tasks asked by the history redesign. Teachers are going to like the edited scholarly pieces for the SAQ section, which ask students to think about historical debates and interpretations. It is a great work designed to enhance one’s instruction. Historical Thinking Skills in AP European History, co-authored with John Irish, helps students hone the skills essential for success under the new AP history redesign courses. It includes chapters that utilize graphic organizers, cause and effect, chronological reasoning, compare and contrast, contextualization, continuity and change over time, defining the period, historical argument, and turning points as measures of skill building and refinement

Here are a few reviews of this piece:

“One of the biggest problems teachers will face in teaching the redesigned AP European History course is finding quality resources to reinforce information and to get students to think and make connections. There are numerous examples in this book and I think it will only enhance student learning.  Historical thinking skills can be challenging for students and this breaks it down and makes it much simpler for students to understand so that they will be more successful in both the course and on the AP Exam itself.”

Tina Gentry

History Teacher

Spring High School

“Carson and Irish provide an excellent resource in helping students master the historical thinking skills needed to reach their full potential in AP European History. It provides educators with numerous resources to help implement and build these skills with their students.”

Tara Gruber

AP World History

AP European History

Allen High School

“This new workbook doesn’t just explain the required historical thinking skills necessary for success on the AP European History exam.  It shows the student and teacher how to apply those skills effectively throughout the four periods of the course curriculum. Using specific examples and clear graphic organizers, the authors have revolutionized the way study skills can be taught, giving the student a clear idea of how to use each skill and how the skills interrelate with and complement one another.”

Pamela Wolfe

History Department Chair

Yeshiva of Greater Washington

Former member of the European History Development Committee


“A workbook, such as this, would prove incredibly invaluable to those AP students looking to demonstrate, refine and improve their expertise. I am confident in saying this workbook will do an exceptional job at addressing the new AP European History curriculum and what it entails.”

Michael J. Poirier

Social Studies Teacher

Nashoba Regional High School

“An invaluable and practical teaching tool that covers all the important Historical Thinking Skills for AP European History. An enormously valuable guide from two highly regarded veteran AP European History teachers.”

Jay Harmon

AP History Teacher

Houston Christian High School

New Course: Race and Urban Inequality in 21st Century America


Below is the description for a course I will teach this winter: Race and Urban Inequality in 21st Century America.

As a historian who studies the past, I use its injustices to challenge the present. I hope this course will teach an array of skills, while providing a base of knowledge 21st century students need to be change agents.

Course Description

Nineteenth century Frenchmen Alexis de Tocqueville wrote on the greatness of American democracy; he referenced the egalitarian nature of the early republic and why democracy was so successful. However, 70 years later W.E.B. Du Bois noted, “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” Du Bois, an African-American scholar and civil rights activist enshrined this iconic observation in July 1900, while speaking in London at the Pan-African Congress. Du Bois repeated this phrase in his 1903 work, Souls of Black Folk. Unlike de Tocqueville, Du Bois addressed inequality in America, which has shaped the urban settings of under funded schools, police brutality, crime, and high unemployment rates in minority communities. In Du Bois’s Let Us Reason Together, he noted the resistance Northerners had toward Negroes migrating to the North. He wrote about endemic issues of racism that furthered 20th and 21st century mass urban unrest.

This course begins with an academic study of race and urban inequality in 20th century America. Students will look at Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow as it purports a prison pipeline system for people of color. Students will engage with scholars, community organizers and activists, public defenders, civic and religious leaders, as well as former gang members and law enforcement officers to expand on why “the problem” of the 20th century is a persistent problem in the 21st century. In the concluding week, students will take on local case studies exploring policies that might resolve endemic matters, which have allowed gang violence and urban riots across the United States.

The Lecture

As a Harkness teacher, I do believe that students must be asked to struggle with their thoughts, readings, and ideas. They need to engage in thoughtful conversations with peers and teachers in order to hone various ideas. I am not anti-lecture, but I do not think students can acquire historical thinking skills via that map. At times I think it is easy to read a set of notes from the front of the room. We all have been in classes in which the instructor said the same thing that was in the reading. Like a great speech, a good lecture is hard to draft. I found this post interesting.