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America in the 1960s Page 2

Dr. Kercher answers a few questions about his passion of history, projects he has been a part of and his love for teaching.

Stephen Kercher
Stephen Kercher, associate professor of history at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Photo taken by Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.

6. You received a Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008. What was your reaction to winning that award?

Great satisfaction.

7. You are one of the co-founders of the Northeast Wisconsin Teachers Academy for the Study of American History. Can you tell us what that organization is and what it does for Wisconsin?

The Northeast Wisconsin Teachers Academy for the Study of American History aims to provide K-12 teachers throughout our region with supplemental education in American history so that they become better classroom teachers. Since many social studies teachers receive far greater
training on teaching methods than they do teaching content, the Academy has been able to provide teachers with resource for expanding and deepening their knowledge of a subject they are required to teach—American history.

Through their participation in summer institutes, workshops, and field trips—funded by nearly $1.8 million in federal Department of Education grants—teachers have engaged in dialogue with dozens of professional historians. For many teachers, the experience has proven invaluable. Students throughout Wisconsin, we hope, are reaping the benefits.

Kercher lectures on the Spanish American War during History 202 on February 22, 2011.
Photo taken by Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.

8. What projects are you currently working on?

I am writing a book on the black student movement and the origins of Black Studies in
Wisconsin colleges and universities in the late 1960s.

9. Can you tell us one of your favorite memories of being of a professor here at UW Oshkosh so far?

One of the most gratifying moments for me came with the premiere of “Black Thursday
Remembered,” an oral history documentary that I made in conjunction with the Black Thursday
exhibition, at the Grand Opera House in 2008. It capped a period of intense work and
immensely enjoyable collaboration with students and staff here at UW Oshkosh. 

Historians are not often able to appreciate how their work is received by a wider public audience, so the experience of screening the documentary and witnessing the audience’s reaction to it was new to me.

10. What do you want your students to walk away with after taking a class with you?

I want them to realize that history matters, that appreciating the record of our past, with all of its
heroic glories and blundering missteps, is vital if they wish to understand the world around them. I want them to realize early in their lives what many individuals only begin to grasp in later age, namely that the institutions, laws, ideas and movements which generations of Americans have bequeathed to us are an inescapable part of who we are. 

And finally, I want them to see that the best examples of what Americans have accomplished in action and articulated in thought are not only worth remembering but ought to inspire our development as engaged, thoughtful citizens.

Dr. Stephen Kercher will be teaching History 396: America in the Sixties in Spring 2012.  

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