Scott Johnson
Social Studies
Battle Ground Academy (HS)
Franklin, Tennessee USA

World War II has always been a source of endless fascination to me every since I was young. That interest grew when I took a class at the University of Iowa from Professor David Schoenbaum called "War and Peace in the 20th Century." It was obvious that he didn't just know the material; it was alive for him—he spoke of events as if he were still in Europe.

When I first started out as a teacher, I was very content driven and worried about covering everything. It quickly became apparent in my public school classroom that lecture isn't effective—students have to be engaged or their eyes glaze over, and they tune the teacher out. As I experimented with Socratic questioning and discussion based on the Harkness model, it became obvious that once a class achieved a certain level of competency in discussion that student curiosity would fuel the learning rather than learning being forced upon students from above.

Conversations about the Battle of Midway and D-Day and the attack on Pearl Harbor are fantastic if steered in the right direction, but there are limitations when one hasn't seen the places one is discussing in person. One reason why I think this experience would be valuable is because it could allow me to take students in these discussions to the places Professor Schoenbaum took us when he talked about World War II in Europe—with all the little nuances of detail that bring places and cultures to life in the imagination of students. Not only would this make our discussions much richer, but it would also expose me to a wealth of new knowledge and ideas that I could bring back to the classroom.