December 5, 2002
Peter Frederick, long-time professor of history at Wabash College, is one of four professors who write about their favorite classes to teach in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education.
History Professor Peter Frederick
Frederick talks about his favorite course, "American History to 1877," in the Chronicle Review section (page B6).
Frederick teaches a range of American history courses at Wabash, and in 2000 was named the Teacher of the Year by the American Historical Association.
Here's what he wrote for The Chronicle:
THE SHORT LIST: FAVORITE CLASSES TO TEACH
*** Peter Frederick, professor of history at Wabash College and editor, with Julie Roy Jeffrey, of American History in a Box, Volume II (Longman, 2001):
"America to 1877."
I've got a good cross-section of students: They're eager, they're not jaded yet, they're anxious to learn and fresh out of high school, and they're open and very receptive to my style of teaching. It's very interactive, they're always in groups, and I make them do the work. I'm aware that if I do less, they do more, so I give them quizzes, break them into small groups to work with primary sources, and challenge them with telling their own stories. For example, now we're doing the American Revolution. I have them talk about a struggle with an authority figure. So they tell their stories, break into groups, and identify themes. So we'll pull out the themes of rights! excessive limits! acts of rebellion! and so forth. They don't quite get to to the responsibilities of autonomy on their own, but we get there eventually, together. I constantly work with what I know about these students' worlds, fears, aspirations, and struggles, and I try to find a way to connect that with the American story through big-picture themes and role-playing groups.