Teaching Division 2001
I have had the good fortune to become the vice president of the Teaching Division following a series of enlightened and hardworking leaders. What has struck me particularly has been how closely and productively the American Historical Association can work with other organizations and programs striving to improve history teaching. The AHA Teaching Division has a lot of partners now, with whom it collaborates in a variety of different ways. I think that it is time to start mapping out the history of history partnerships, in part to get a clearer sense of where we are going right now.
Just as I took office, two new programs arose that became the focus of the division's work during the year: the federal project "Teaching American History" and the accreditation of teacher preparation programs.
Teaching American History grew out of the personal passion of Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) for history but is presently becoming a major program of the Department of Education. The first 60 grants made to partnerships of local education agencies with colleges or universities and organizations involved with history seem to have been given chiefly to established projects, with a balance of urban and rural locations and of kinds of partners, eight community colleges among them. The Association is working closely with Department of Education program officers to establish, in a year or two, a space on the AHA web site where the projects can be displayed to demonstrate what they have been doing in detail. We have also begun discussing the idea of a conference where those running the project can make presentations and discuss one another's work. A consortium of history organizations, including the Organization of American Historians and the National Council for the Social Studies, would work together with the AHA in such a project.
Accreditation of history programs for teacher preparation has arisen from the decision of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education to review credential programs in regard to content as well as pedagogy. The National Council for the Social Studies is responsible for the reviews.
The Teaching Division is attempting to aid departments to meet the challenges involved in writing the review documents. National accreditation reviewing content is relatively new to our field, and the NCSS applies a broad set of standards inclusive of all the major social sciences. The division hopes to help departments to rethink and strengthen their programs while going through the review. In such fashion departments can build better relations with the schools and with education departments to link historical understanding and pedagogical practice more closely. This is being accomplished at many universities by building partnerships with school districts for workshops on historical problems and by inviting practicing teachers to conduct methods courses specific to history.
I wish to thank the members of the division-Peggy Renner, John Pyne, Vicki Ruiz, and Maxine Lurie-for good advice and assistance. I wish particularly to thank Maxine and Vicki, who are ending their three-year terms on the division. I might mention that Maxine carried on a full set of duties with us while serving as chair of the Committee on Part-Time and Adjunct Employment. Noralee Frankel, assistant director of women, minorities, and teaching, has provided crucial knowledge, tactical advice, and unwavering support. She and her administrative assistant, Peleg Tal, were crucial to the completion of three outside funded web-based projects: (1) The NEH-funded "Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age: Reconceptualizing the Introductory Survey Course"; (2) an addition to the AHA's teaching portfolios funded by theCarnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; and (3) information about service learning funded by Campus Compact. You can learn more about these on the “Teaching” pages of the AHA web site. Frankel and Tal continue their work on the AHA’s Preparing Future Faculty project.
William Weber (California State University at Long Beach) is vice president of the Teaching Division.