AHA Member Spotlight: Ted Dickson
Ted Dickson is a history teacher and department chair at Providence Day School, Charlotte, North Carolina. He lives in Matthews, North Carolina, and has been a member since 1991.
Alma maters: AB, Princeton University, 1983; MA, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1991
Fields of Interest: globalizing and diversifying the survey, incorporating culture
Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?
I majored in history at Princeton and graduated as a certified 6-12 teacher. I then taught high school in Austria, elementary school in Massachusetts, and middle school in Michigan. My wife and I married in the summer of 1989 and moved to Santa Barbara for graduate school where I earned my MA in modern US and modern European history (and taught undergraduates). In 1991 I decided to return to secondary school teaching and was hired to be department chair at Providence Day School, a TK-12 independent school in Charlotte, North Carolina.
What do you like the most about where you live and work?
I love the people I work with, especially their commitment to their students and their craft. In addition, Providence Day School has always generously supported professional development opportunities ranging from attending OAH and AHA annual conferences, to visiting teachers in Russia and teaching their classes, to discussing history education with teachers and university professors at their schools in Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. This support has enabled me to bridge the gap between high school teaching and university instruction.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am serving as an online mentor for AP US History teachers from around the country and lead AP workshops. I am continuing to research ways to incorporate more LGBTQ+, Native American, Asian American, and Latinx history into my classes, and I am always looking for more songs and images to incorporate into my lessons.
Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?
In my master's program, I focused on war and society topics, and when I started to present at conferences in the 1990s, my sessions focused on how to teach about American wars in the survey course. I then was appointed to the advisory board for the OAH Magazine of History and in that position I began to explore more cultural history. That position led to me being the co-editor of America on the World Stage and my focus became globalizing the teaching of US history. From there, I ended up as the co-chair of the redesign process for the AP United States History course, which broadened my research interests to the teaching of historical thinking and led to my most recent publication: Historical Practices, Skills, and Course Themes Workbook for AP US History.
What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever found at the archives or while doing research?
I have many favorite primary sources, but the most interesting ones for me are the ones that I can use in class that involve my ancestors such as an abolitionist sermon from Edmund H. Sears, Caroline Seabury's diary entry about the treatment of an enslaved person where she was living as a teacher in the antebellum South, and Winslow Homer's painting of my great-grandmother.
Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?
As someone who teaches the survey every year. I am more of a generalist than a specialist—which means that I am challenged to keep up with all aspects of the discipline. One of the ways that I do this is listening to podcasts every morning while I run. My favorite podcasts are interviews with historians about their recent work. I highly recommend Ben Franklin's World, The Age of Jackson, In the Past Lane, and Backstory.
What do you value most about the history discipline?
What I love about history is that I am constantly learning, and I love transferring that passion for learning history to my students (as well as teaching them the relevance of history to their present and future).
Why is membership in the AHA important to you?
I have enjoyed watching AHA become more attuned to K-16 teaching and have valued the connections I have made throughout the profession through the AHA.
Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?
My favorite AHA memory is presenting on Teaching the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement in a Global Perspective (with Ed Ayers and Kevin Gaines).
AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.
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