In 1988 I began teaching history at a community college and later at a public university because I wanted to help students learn something beyond their daily lives while helping them earn a better living. I also started Omaha Habitat for Humanity in 1984, four years before I began teaching. I enjoyed doing oral history interviews and sharing these stories with students. I worked on modifying the Socratic method to boost participation and teach critical thinking skills while sharing stories. Studs Terkel, who did interviews for Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970), influenced me to go to graduate school. With his journalistic style, he brought out the significance of ordinary people's lives and helped readers see how the indomitable human spirit pulled people through the Depression. My experiences in teaching have ranged from teaching online, teaching surveys from 10 to 80 students, and teaching my first two classes at Omaha Correctional Center where I had my best prepared students as they didn't have outside distractions. I have had over 11,000 students between Metro Community College and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, from Mongolia to Sardinia, and every continent. I like teaching American history and world history with as much cultural diversity as possible and I draw on the diversity of my students. I offer extra credit activities where students can visit a place or an event and write up two pages of their observations for points. I like to show clips from movies like Glory, Valkyrie, and Gandhi where students can look at how racism, anti-Semitism, and ethnocentrism have dominated our society in certain periods and how those dangerous ideologies were confronted and defeated. I hope through my classes that my students learn how to be good American citizens as well as contributing global citizens.
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