Affiliate News

Committee on History in the Classroom Expresses Appreciation for Robert Blackey

Committee Staff, October 1995

Robert Blackey served as vice president of the Teaching Division of the American Historical Association from December 1992 to January 1995. Now that his term of office has ended, we would like to express publicly our appreciation for the contribution he has made to the historical profession. Bob became one of the editors of the Teaching Innovations column of Perspectives when it first appeared in 1986, and he assumed major responsibility for the column in 1988. Thanks to his leadership, Teaching Innovations has emerged as a valuable forum where history teachers may share their teaching experiences, sources, insights, and methods with their colleagues.

In 1993, at the midterm of his tenure as Teaching Division vice president, Bob published History Anew: Innovations in the Teaching of History Today, an anthology of articles about history education that appeared in Perspectives between 1984 and 1991. A glance at the book's table of contents shows that Teaching Innovations had, from its beginnings, begun to explore a field of interest that would appeal to audiences ranging from secondary school historians to teachers of graduate students. Bob, as chief editor, had started to define the "wonderful world of the history teacher" for the benefit of the historical profession.

History Anew represents a scholarly contribution that became immediately useful to teaching historians at all levels. The American Historical Review, departing from established practice, published a short but favorable review in its December 1994 issue. The AHA and the Society for History Education helped with promotion.

In the formulation of his editorial policy and in the development of a publishing program, Bob has enjoyed the unstinting support and guidance of the editorial staff of Perspectives and of the AHA leadership. But a majority of the articles that he has published have seen the light of day thanks to his own hard work and painstaking commitment to the job. He has located and tracked down prospective teacher-authors; worked closely with them in the often lengthy process of developing successive drafts; and waited patiently, sometimes even a year or more, for the completion of their manuscripts. These authors have included two-year college and secondary school history teachers—who are among the busiest people in the country—in addition to university professors.

Bob's exploration of the history teacher's world has led him to experiment with fresh themes and formats for his column. The innovative nature of the column has served to arouse further interest in it and to make possible stimulating exchanges of ideas on such controversial topics as textbooks, world history, whites teaching African American history, multicultural history, and nationalism. Changes in the newsletter's style and content, and the expanded coverage allotted to educational topics throughout the newsletter, expanded steadily during Bob's tenure as Teaching Division vice president. Bob laid the basis and provided a catalyst for an upsurge in creative writing on all aspects of the history teacher's craft. By 1994 the appearance of Teaching Innovations as a front page feature was becoming almost commonplace.

This new awareness of the significance of history teaching did not mean that other legitimate professional concerns were muffled or sidelined. On the contrary, the newsletter has continued to deal with these as ably and conscientiously as always. What it does mean is that Bob, with the help of his colleagues, has succeeded in drawing attention to the central role that the history teacher is called upon to play both in the classroom and in the country's public life. In this process, many in the profession, including Bob, have learned much. As for the AHA, it has grown in stature thanks to its rediscovery of an older tradition linking the research worker and the teacher, rudely interrupted by the outbreak of World War II and the deep freeze that followed.

It would be wrong to give the impression that Bob, as vice president of the Teaching Division, left his stamp only on the pages of Perspectives. On the contrary, the division can point with pride to other contributions. Bob and the division revised, for example, the criteria for the Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award and added an award for K–12 teachers; gave support to the institution of a prize in honor of an article on pedagogy; and helped develop and promote pamphlets and written materials on the teaching of history.

Bob has also been an eloquent advocate for excellence in history teaching through his active support of the efforts of the History Teaching Alliance, the National History Education Network, and the World History Association. He has also provided enthusiastic backing for the Committee on History in the Classroom in its efforts to organize sessions devoted to pedagogy at AHA annual meetings. Last but not least, he has responded generously to the numerous requests for assistance and support that have been addressed to him.

In the light of the above considerations, the following resolution was passed by the Committee on History in the Classroom at its annual business meeting on January 6, 1995.

WHEREAS Robert Blackey has served his profession, his colleagues, and teaching historians with distinction and dedication as vice president for the Teaching Division of the American Historical Association from 1992 to 1995; and

WHEREAS Robert Blackey's term of office as vice president for the Teaching Division has come to an end after productive, committed, and innovative service;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Committee on History in the Classroom, meeting on January 6, 1995, in Chicago, Illinois, that official and personal expressions of appreciation are hereby extended to Robert Blackey for his exemplary leadership as vice president of the American Historical Association's Teaching Division. He has dedicated himself to describing and making known the scholarship of teaching. He has striven to ensure that historians committed primarily to teaching shall receive recognition and support for their public and professional contribution, and he has affirmed that this recognition shall be no less than that accorded to colleagues primarily engaged in research leading to publication.