Publication Date

September 26, 2012

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

AHA members may have already read the article by Patty Limerick, vice president in the teaching division, either in the print edition of Perspectives on History or online.

This inspiring and provocative article, “Brought Back to Life by the AHA: ‘Change Over Time,’ Gifford Pinchot, and Me,” is now available in the public section of our website. Here is a taste:
“Reading about the rise of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), my spirits have not risen proportionately. MOOCs mock nearly everything I have loved about the professor’s privilege of being in the company of young people as they launch into life.”


“…I see my mission to respond to MOOCs in modest terms: to serve as a publicist and promoter for the irreplaceable value—and the joy, terror, and intensity—of face-to-face teaching. If those of us who have received life’s most treasured rewards in this calling do not make our case positively, persuasively, and very publicly, the Empire of the MOOC is going to win by a forfeit.”


“When I spoke as Theodore Roosevelt’s friend, Chief Forester Gifford Pinchot (he was, after all, a spiritualist who thought he could speak with the dead!), I reached a life goal: I became, for half an hour, many times more interesting than iPhones and Facebook.”


“As we often say, historians specialize in the study of change over time. Thus, we are distinctively equipped to draw on this expertise and to set the standards for nimbleness, agility, resilience, creativity, and innovation in dealing with the two examples of “change over time” that affect us most directly: the cognition and character of young people have been rearranged by the digital world, and the recession and student debt have given “enhance employability” a rank equal to “sharpen minds” and “expand spirits.”

Read the rest here.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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