The thread of my story begins in Europe in the summer of 2001, during my Grand Tour. Between two days in Normandy that spanned 900 years of history (Bayeux Tapestry to Utah Beach) and three hours on a train between Krakow and Prague when I shared a compartment with a Holocaust survivor who was returning from his first trip back to Auschwitz, History roared back to consciousness inside of me after a decade-long hiatus. When I returned home, I bought a copy of Norman Davies’ Europe: A History – all 1,392 pages – to help me fill in the holes the five week trip highlighted in the form of five pages of tiny little notes to myself about people, places, events that were important but unknown to me.
Ever since, I’ve been slowly working on making History a vocation as well as a passion. I talked myself out of a PhD after my 2005 Systems Dynamics course at AU, where I created a working model of the academic job market for History PhDs. I don’t think I’m telling anyone on the doctorate track that it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Sorry! Undaunted even if deflected, I jumped into the MA program determined to tie in History with my present work. Along the way, I have created websites, worked on digital cartography, studied the changing shape of the American closet, and managed to present a paper at the 2009 AHA Annual Meeting, the current high-water mark of my academic career.
Yet now that I have a wife and a 10-month old son, decisions relating to anything that might disrupt a steady paycheck have taken new gravity. I’m still working on moving towards getting paid for doing something History. I’m just telling myself that will just require more patience. Those of you already in the History workforce, please – leave my fantasy as intact as possible! (Advice to son: do something you love when you are young, because it only gets harder to chase that dream once you have spent a few years on the career treadmill.)
Meanwhile, I have been an educator for 14 years, specializing in e-learning, instructional design and integrating evidence-based design into classroom programs to improve learning retention and effectiveness. Teaching is another passion – I’ve spent time in multiple industries (financial services, government, insurance, consulting, even an internet start-up company), but always in the learning and development field. What can I say? I come from a family of educators (my mom, an aunt, and four cousins across two generations). That I will find immediate application of the things I learn in this course seems certain. That I will learn much from all of you seems similarly assured. I look forward to our collaboration!