HM - Sept. 2015 - McAlister

The History Corner


The National Council for History Education at Twenty-Five

Nathan McAlister
Royal Valley Middle School
Mayetta, KS

The year 2015 marks the 25th Anniversary for the National Council for History Education.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we take time to reflect on what has made the NCHE the remarkable organization that is today.  Some will tell you it is the extensive connections with heavyweight historical scholars: Elliot West, Carol Berkin, David McCullough, Patricia Limerick, Eric Foner, and Douglas Brinkley, to name a few.  The connections are vast and impressive.  Still others will say that it is the coordinated and extremely enriching conferences with their dynamic tours, valuable breakout sessions, and content rich keynote speakers.  To be fair, scholars and conferences are important to the livelihood of any successful organization.  For me, however, it is NCHE's commitment to teachers' professional development, its articulation of History's Habits of Mind, and its fostering of master teachers that sets the organization apart.  

Since its inception NCHE had the vision and leadership to craft a professional development model, the NCHE Colloquia, built around disciplinary thinking - History's Habits of Mind. The NCHE colloquium pairs academic historians with master history teachers and with specialists in the teaching and learning of history to bring a rich tapestry of content to teachers while offering them practical methods for the classroom.  Formerly funded through federal Teaching American History grants, NCHE colloquia are offered in short (often 3 days) or long (up to a week) versions that are held at various locations across the nation. Through this model, NCHE embarked on a mission aimed at mentoring history teachers by fostering their love of history, supporting their endeavors in schools, and encouraging advanced study. The mission continues.

The goal?  Produce a legion of well-educated, passionate history teachers, who take their passion for history to the classroom and teach a new generation of students.  We want our students not to simply learn history, but to engage, question, and comprehend history on a whole new level, in essence, creating student-historians.    The results are striking.  Using conservative calculations, the NCHE has served over 10,000 teachers.  Add to that the number of students inspired and impacted by those teachers and you are approaching the million plus mark.  The impact of NCHE on history education is, to say the very least, immense.

During this 25th anniversary year of the National Council for History Education, on behalf of all teachers who now hold a master's degree in history, teachers who have inspired their students and are proud of all their accomplishments, and teachers who have been honored with countless awards for excellence in teaching, thank you, NCHE.