Why Teach History?

A Website for James L. Smith


James L. Smith
is a former high school history teacher who now works as an education consultant, writer, publisher, and part-time teacher. As a consultant, Jim has made presentations to teachers throughout the United States, as well as in Europe and Asia. His presentations provide professional development opportunities for history teachers who want to help students develop analytical thinking and writing skills. He also makes presentations on a variety of topics in U.S. history, as well as presentations about the general art of teaching. In 2014 Jim taught a MOOC for Rice University titled "The Art of Teach History" that reached over 6700 teachers in 148 nations. During the time that Jim is not consulting or writing, he teaches community education classes on music history and Billy the Kid.

Jim is the author of an American history textbook titled
Ideas That Shape a Nation, a book that has been endorsed by teachers and scholars throughout the nation, including two Pulitzer Prize-winning historians (David Kennedy and Jack Rakove). In 2013, his novel Catherine’s Son was a named a finalist for the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award as best historical fiction. Jim is also the author of Skipper Hall: The Life and Religious Philosophy of a Methodist Minister in New Mexico. Jim has published articles and book reviews in The Journal of Southern History, Phi Delta Kappan, AP Central, Historical Times, and Healthy U.

Jim has been a recipient of the James Madison Fellowship, the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship, and a two-time recipient of the William Robertson Coe Fellowship. He has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education (history and music) and two master’s degrees (history and government). The Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History has recognized Jim as the U.S. History Teacher of the Year. He has also been recognized as the New Mexico Teacher of the Year and a finalist for the National Teachers Hall of Fame.


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