“As long as you teach history the correct way.”

Upon hearing that I am a college professor and frequently teach History, people sometimes respond with conditional and reserved words of enthusiasm. In some way or another, these people inquire as to whether or not I teach History correctly.

What does that even mean?

I usually respond that I teach according to evidence. And this does not satisfy their suspicions.

Here’s what I’m guessing most of them mean: “Do you teach this new crazy junk that includes minorities and recognizes all the awful things the U.S. has done or do you teach that the United States is the best country ever and that the South will rise again?”

People are very resistant to encountering information, however directly or indirectly, that does not confirm their childhood (and adult) notions of the past that are taught in movies, in cartoons, and in public schools.

People get really anxious at times when you explain how an event has all kinds of interpretations and has a historiography! 

By even asking, “Do you teach history correctly,” people demonstrate they do not know what it means to actually study the past or have advanced degrees in the subject. And as a reminder, I am not a history buff! 🙂 

Here’s to teaching about the past in a way that challenges people!

Andrew Joseph Pegoda