Publication Date

May 1, 1996

Annually since 1979, with only two exceptions, the history department and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Texas have sponsored a Conference on the Teaching of History directed toward university historians and high school history teachers. The AHA Teaching Division and the Texas Education Agency, during the years when a career ladder was in place, have cosponsored the conference and supported it in many ways. During all the years save 1995 the conference has been financially self-supporting through the offices of the history department and the College of Arts and Sciences. The conference has been held on the campus of the University of North Texas, in Denton, and will be held there again in 1996. Anyone who wishes to attend or to participate in a session may call Randolph Campbell at (817) 565- 3402 or send an e-mail message to him at mike@cas.unt.edu.

A planning committee develops an annual theme for the conference. In 1995 the theme was "National Standards for the Teaching of History." The conference consists of five time periods of one-and-a-half hours duration with three to six separate presentations per time period. In 1995 there was a total of 17 presentations. Some conferences in the past have had as many as 32 presentations. The overwhelming majority of the presentations have been content-oriented, and some have dealt with methodology and technology as they apply to history. Public school teachers who participate or attend can earn up to 0.6 Continuing Education Unit (CED) credits. Topics in the sessions have been diverse. In 1995 topics included "Putting Women in History," ''Uniformity and Diversity in Victorian/English History," "Intensified Hemispheric Interactions (1000-1500 C.E.)," "What Is History? Getting Beyond the Facts," and "Teaching Texas History amid the Culture Wars," to name a few. Keynote speakers at luncheons and banquets have stressed historical content in their addresses. Over the years, colleagues in many colleges and universities in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and beyond have contributed to the conference both as presenters and participants, as have teachers from many public and private secondary schools. Among those giving papers in 1995 were professors from Texas A & M University, the University of Oklahoma, Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Texas at Brownsville, East Texas Slate University, Washburn University, Austin College, the University of Texas-Pan American, Southwest Texas Slate University, Texas Christian University, Baylor University, and the University of North Texas. High school teachers from Weatherford (Tex.) High School and from Skyline High School, in Dallas, also made presentations. Teachers from many high schools attended and participated. The conference's planning committee and its presenters are diverse in terms of ethnicity and gender. The conference also sponsors a book exhibit, with textbook publishers displaying books appropriate for course adoption.

Annually, participants have evaluated each session; every year the evaluations have been extremely positive. The participants are asked how frequently they would like to see the conference occur, and each year they have responded that they would like to have the conference at least once a year. Some participants have asked that it be done more frequently than that. It is clear that both presenters and participants enjoy the conference and feel that they take away something of benefit. Most of the participants are from secondary schools, but some are from elementary schools, junior colleges, colleges, and universities. All presenters have encouraged questions and discussion either during or after the presentations. Some participants have commented that they especially enjoyed the atmosphere at the conference-one that is friendly and relaxed.

In 1994 and 1995 the teaching conference was a joint one; the American Historical Association- approved conference met together with the World History Association of Texas. Coordinators of the conference felt that the joint meetings were both fruitful and pleasant. The 1996 conference to be held on September 7, 1996, will also be a joint one. Planning for the conference is already under way.

In 1995 the planning committee sought external funding. The Philip R. Jonsson Foundation of Dallas gave generous support to the joint meeting that year. The grant money enabled the reduction of the registration fee to a nominal sum, which included lunch for teachers who attended and permitted modest honorariums for presenters and speakers. The Department of History and the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of North Texas would like to publicly thank Philip R. Jonsson and the foundation for their support. Such generosity to help improve the teaching of history is a clear encouragement for those in the profession who believe that the public benefits from opportunities to learn more about history and its teaching.

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