Humanities Moments

Items in the Educators Collection

My Service in the Navy Sparked a Lifelong Interest in Other Cultures
Teacher Lou Nachman discusses how his experiences overseas in the Navy changed him from an indifferent student to embrace life as a teacher and enthusiastic traveler.For Nachman, works of literature such as Big Fish or To Kill a Mockingbird forge an…

Broccoli, Anthropology, and the Humanities
Caitlin Patton discusses how the work of Ted Fischer, an anthropologist focused on food culture, specifically the cultivation of broccoli in Guatemala, inspired her choice to study at Vanderbilt University.Fischer’s book, Broccoli and Desire,…

Fathers and Sons
In this video, Scott Gartlan discusses his reaction to seeing Arthur Miller’s 1947 play All My Sons and seeing deep connections between the play’s narrative and his own life story. He goes on to reflect on the power of storytelling to bridge…

Eyes on the Prize
Kamille Bostick shares the moment when she first saw the PBS documentary Eyes on the Prize and discusses how the revelations of that film history have contributed to her career and her long interest in history, especially the lives and…

Spreading the Love of Libraries
Librarian Deborah Jung describes the moment she discovered libraries and the riches they offer, which fueled her passion for opening the world of literature to children.

For Jung, finding a library as a child was like “going to heaven.” The…

Unlocking the Code
In this clip, educator Kathryn Bentley discusses an early moment in her teaching career when she came to realize the role emotions play in learning to read and that for some students this is the key element of instruction.

Throughout several…

What Happens When We Share Our Stories?
Teacher Theresa Pierce discusses how the accumulation and sharing of personal narratives help generate individual moments of realization among students as they also help build a sense of community. Books, maps, and works of art consistently…

Without Words
Teacher Christina Lohry describes a moment in which she realized how language (and other forms of communication) can profoundly change how we view others, breaking down misconceptions and helping us connect.

While volunteering at a cerebral palsy…

Feeling the American Revolution
History teacher Steve Oreskovic discusses how he gets his students to empathize with the feelings of injustice among colonists in the run up to the American Revolution, helping them gain a richer context for learning about history.

Through the…

What Does It Mean to Be Southern?
Community college teacher Julie Mullis describes how a classroom experience with students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives created a memorable and “multi-colored” sense of place and belonging. The conversations and debates that took place in…

For the First Time It Felt Like Someone Was Writing About Me
English teacher Justin Parmenter describes how his encounters with essays by Thoreau and Emerson, and later with the poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey,” helped him to understand how literature can provide both an escape from the…

People of the Book Reminds Me Why I Love the Humanities
I read People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks a few days ago and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. This book combined many of my loves: reading, historical fiction, and stories of survival and humanity.As a history teacher, with two…

One Ship Connects Generations
On the morning of March 17, 2008, I called my grandmother as I was getting ready to board the Queen Mary. I remember telling her - "I am next to your ship!" I sent photos to my mom to share with her and she was looking at them while we were still on…

The Power of a Perspective Change
In my first semester as a history grad student, I remember reading an assigned book that changed my perspective on history forever. Prior to grad school, I had a very basic and foundation building education at that point. Looking back to my…

The Shoes
We (my mother, father, sister, and I) were travelling in Poland (where my mother's family is from). One of the places we visited was Auschwitz.

Every year I teach about World War II including the Holocaust. I share photos from my travels with…

Learning to Differentiate
I grew up in suburban Ohio and I knew from an early age that I wanted to experience more of the world than the mall. In high school, I applied for a student exchange program and desperately wanted to go to Argentina. Surprise -- I was accepted into…

Parts Unknown, or How a Great Mind Taught Us to Be Better
"Maybe that's enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom ... is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go" (A. Bourdain).

I just fell in love…

Inspired by Activism
It was my first day of observations at the school I now teach at. The day had progressed as a typical day and I had the chance to observe two World History 1 courses. After those classes my mentor teacher got into a conversation with two…

Facing History is Not a Walk in the Park
I recently returned from a two week mini "Grand Tour" of Europe. The last stop on our itinerary was the Bavarian capital, Munich. As a World History teacher, I had to sign up for the Third Reich walking tour of the city. Along the two hour walk, we…

"Teach Them Well and Let Them Lead the Way"
For many years, my school district hosted an annual Academic Diversity Institute prior to the start of the new school year. At this institute, teachers had the opportunity to hear speakers and attend seminars that taught about and encouraged the…

Perspective from Waiting for Superman
When I was in high school, there was an incredible amount of buzz around a new documentary, Waiting for Superman. The documentary focused on the struggle some students faced to get a quality education in major U.S. cities, like Washington, D.C. For…

The Great Gatsby, Revisited
When asked what my favorite book is, I often quickly answer with The Great Gatsby. I first readThe Great Gatsbyin 2009 in my 10th Grade English class and fell in love. I loved the description of the clothing and parties of the 1920s. I loved the…

World History Puzzles
I have vague recollections of eating my packed lunch on the stone steps of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art after completing a scavenger hunt for facts about particular paintings deemed important by my elementary school teacher. I more distinctly…

The Day I Knew I Was Going to Teach History
In what has become a defining moment of my entire life, my first true humanities moment provided clarity and direction for my future in the midst of all things awkward about being a middle school student.

Doing well in school was a safety net for…

Scotland the Brave and The Flower of Scotland: A Wee Moment with Huge Impact
We tend to remember "firsts" in our lives. Hopefully we recognize the importance and value of experiences as we live through them. My first travel overseas was as an undergraduate on a semester study abroad to Stirling University in Scotland. It…

A Trip to Antietam National Battlefield
When I was ten years old my family took a day trip to visit the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland. This family activity was the idea of my father, a Civil War enthusiast with a lifelong passion for history. As a ten-year-old, I…

When Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb? Is More Than a Trivia Question
In the summer of 2006, my best friend and I stumbled upon a book called, Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb. The book summarizes the post-presidential lives of the American Presidents, details their passing and funerals, and finishes with a commentary on…

Artifacts at the Museum
Recently, I've found myself longing to take advantage of the Smithsonian Museums that are so conveniently located ten miles northeast of my home- maybe it's because such destinations were closed for a long period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.…

Preserving Tradition and Embracing Change
This was my fourth trip to Georgia since 2016 and each trip I have noticed a slow-and-steady increase in the amount of "western" influence in the city. From one year to the next, hotels- huge skyscrapers in a city of modestly tall buildings- are…