Letters to the Editor

Teaching by the Playbook

Dominique Padurano, September 2005

To the Editor:

I enjoyed reading Bill Shuttlesworth and William Edgington's "Preparing Non-Historians to Teach History: The Coaching History Playbook" (Perspectives, May 2005). Its creative use of football analogies to help teacher-coaches effectively teach history to secondary school students will surely inspire many.

Nevertheless, I am slightly disturbed by the implications raised by its title, especially in the context of a newsletter geared primarily for postsecondary instructors of history. While the authors acknowledge that some "non-historians" (that is, secondary school teachers) are master teachers, I think we need to underscore the converse fact, that a PhD in history does not a teacher make. As an undergraduate at Harvard, for example, I was "lucky" enough to take a course with a world renowned sociologist who turned out to be the worst teacher I'd ever had in my life. While secondary school teachers, coaches or not, can often learn a great deal from professional historians, we college professors would do well to acknowledge that we, too, can learn a great deal from our colleagues who teach younger students. By attending workshops with high school teachers, for example, or participating in professional activities that draw on the expertise of both college and secondary school teachers, we at the postsecondary level might gain valuable insight into pedagogy, appreciate the challenges facing our colleagues who teach younger students, and learn exactly what needs these students carry with them as they enter our classrooms as college freshman.

— Dominique Padurano, Rutgers University