Letters to the Editor

Scholars and Teachers

Robert Blackey, December 2010

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To the Editor:

I want to urge the AHA, especially in its publications, to cease using the terms “scholars and teachers” when referring to college and university professors, on the one hand, and secondary school history teachers, on the other. Are not professors also teachers (even as all may not be scholars)? Of course they are. Can’t secondary school teachers also be scholars (as numbers have always been)? Of course they can. That is why I believe such language usage creates an artificial division that is surely insulting to some among both groups. As an alternative, my suggestion is to refer to all of us, especially when the labels are used together, as “historians at all levels of education.”

By way of perspective, in my capacity as vice president of the AHA’s Teaching Division, in 1992, I worked with and represented the Association’s U.S. history and world history task forces during the contentious interaction we had with the National History Standards Project as we reviewed their work in progress. During that time, there were those of us in the AHA, as well as some project people, who argued against the project’s separating historians into scholars and teachers.

So, in the spirit of collegiality as well as to be more reflective of reality, I urge the AHA, its editors, and, indeed, all historians, to avoid creating—even unintentionally—divisions between “teachers” and “scholars.”

—Robert Blackey
California State University, San Bernardino