Textbooks and Teaching: A Reintroduction

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Techniques and strategies How does one teach 750 students? What are the possibilities and pitfalls in asking students to work with conflicting historical interpretations? In this sound-bite culture, how does one hold students’ attention for fifty minutes? What kinds of teacher training are departments providing to graduate students? These are a few of the questions and topics we foresee. As for the answers, we will publish case studies-first-person accounts that will, in effect, allow readers to visit colleagues’ classrooms. Teachers typically do their work in private (we might say in secret). We hope to open the doors to creative pedagogical ideas. 2. Resources We will continue publishing reviews of textbooks, examining not only how current texts interpret certain topics (for example, the South; Native Americans) but also how the interpretation has or has not changed during the past twenty years. But the textbook is only one of the available pedagogical packages. Collections of primary documents have been coming out in a steady stream. And despite the obstacle of securing copyright permissions, teachers put together course packs of their favorite secondary or primary sources. In the nonprint world, CD-ROMs have transformed textbooks into audiovisual cornucopias, while video players have made films notably more accessible. Among the adventurous, presentation software (which allows professors to augment their lectures with material projected from a computer monitor onto a screen) has appeared in history lecture halls, and the Internet has unleashed a torrent of discussion via chat rooms, H-lists, and World Wide Web sites. We will try to build bridges between you and this blooming, buzzing world of resources. Look for reviews of primary-document collections. We will also reprint interesting syllabi and tables of contents of course packs. In the interest of practicality, we are thinking in terms of courses: the United States since 1945, Civil War and Reconstruction, American history to 1865, women’s history.