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The BFW Classroom Compass for AP* World History

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Over the past several decades I’ve had the rich opportunity to interact with many AP* World History instructors from my vantage point as a college professor and textbook author (Ways of the World). At AP* readings, conferences, workshops, webinars, and school visits, I have come to appreciate their familiarity with current scholarship, their pedagogical creativity, and their enthusiasm about this very challenging enterprise. I have also noticed a hunger for communication with others teaching or writing World History. Bedford’s “Compass” project offers a venue for such interaction, perhaps a clearing house for pedagogical ideas and resources, a place where individual instructors can enlarge their circle of colleagues. I feel sure that many college instructors could benefit greatly from taking part in such a forum.

In a world of scholarly specialization, all of us who dare to undertake the teaching of World History occupy a distinctive niche as “specialists of the whole.” None of us are experts in all the events, process, and cultures we present to our students. Our expertise lies rather in providing the most effective contexts, frameworks, or “big picture” perspectives in which to situate the particulars of our courses. I would hope that “Compass” might provide an arena in which our unique specialization—teaching contextual thinking—will be recognized and enhanced.

About the Author
Robert W. Strayer (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin) brings wide experience in world history to the writing of Ways of the World. His teaching career began in Ethiopia where he taught high school world history for two years as part of the Peace Corps. At the university level, he taught African, Soviet, and world history for many years at the State University of New York-College at Brockport, where he received Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in Teaching and for Excellence in Scholarship. In 1998 he was visiting professor of world and Soviet history at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Since moving to California in 2002, he has taught world history at the University of California, Santa Cruz; California State University, Monterey Bay; and Cabrillo College. He is a long-time member of the World History Association and served on its Executive Committee. He has also participated in various AP World History gatherings, including two years as a reader. His publications include Kenya: Focus on Nationalism, The Making of Mission Communities in East Africa, The Making of the Modern World, Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse?, and The Communist Experiment.