Luckily, in what I would consider a common experience for many of us, I fell in love with my subject matter because of a great teacher. It only took 20 years and countless hours of courses, but I knew what I wanted to teach.
Part of the allure of history and social studies, more generally, is how you can teach it. I feel for my math colleagues that are somewhat limited in how they can present their content. In social studies, almost anything goes. While we've been typecast as the "movie show-ers," and the boring story tellers, our discipline becomes more important and more relevant every day, in my opinion. The common core has tied social studies to critical thinking and writing skills that are crucial pieces of communication in life. The 1:1 initiative in many schools has opened so many instructional doors that its hard to keep up. The tech wave that's cresting was made for social studies.
And while I've recently pushed my students towards current events involving the Donald Sterling tapes or the missing Malaysian airplane saga, I still come back to history. I love the strides social studies has made towards teaching what's really important for kids to know in the 21st century. We've replaced teaching the War of 1812 with the tragedy of September 11th. We talk about the Civil Rights Movement in context of the gay rights and immigration movements of today. We have to bring history to the present day and make it relevant for our students. Kids need those connections, but kids need history too.
I'm wrapping up my final year of teaching Advanced Placement United States History, a course that carries the reputation of being grudgingly difficulty and incredibly tedious. But in studying the highs and lows of our forefathers, I hope my students have felt the weight and importance of our country's past.
History is rewarding. Dramatic. Restless. Puzzling. Romantic. Inspiring, And in some cases, unfair.
What a parallel to life.
Often times, we don't have to look far to find the passion behind what we teach. The importance of our subject matter and its relevance to who we are teaching gives us the answer every time.