Valpo Nostalgia, Historical Thinking, and Bob Elder’s US History Survey Course

This morning I Skyped with Bob Elder‘s U.S. History survey course at Valparaiso University.  As many of you know, I taught at Valparaiso from 2000-2002 as a Lilly Fellow  Post-Doctoral Fellow, so I felt a bit nostalgic seeing Bob in action with his class.  (When I taught at Valpo my classroom was located in the dingy basement of Christ College.  It was nice to see Bob in a very modern-style computer classroom filled with new technology).

Bob’s class had just finished Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction.  After a few questions from Bob, the students had a chance to grill me.  My favorite question came from a student who wanted to know where David Barton got all of his historical documents.  I said that I had no idea, but I would like to see the collection some day.  Of course I also used this question to remind the students that just because a person owns documents and shows them at public talks does not mean he or she is a “historian.”  History requires more than quoting and displaying–it requires interpretation and the application of the 5cs of historical thinking.

David Barton and his documents

Thanks to Bob Elder for the invitation.  It was good to be “back” at Valpo!