SGAP Teacher Spotlight for Dec. 2017 (Kevin Cline of Frankton, IN)

Name: Kevin M. Cline
School Name: Frankton High School
City, State: Frankton, IN
Subjects Taught: U.S. History, U.S. Government, Dual Credit Government
Grades Taught: 11-12
Years Teaching: 13
Honors: Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History’s 2016 National History Teacher of the Year; 2012 American Civic Education Teaching Award (ACETA) Recipient  

What is your philosophy about teaching your subject?
“I love teaching both U.S. History and Government because these classes afford us the chance to encourage the kind of critical thinking that is so necessary now. I am a firm believer in active citizenship. Young people must leave their secondary educational experience with a strong understanding of their responsibilities as citizens, and the ways in which individual action or inaction can impact their community and country.”  

How do you stir interest in the subject among students?
“Interest comes through interaction. History and government are far from static subjects, designed to be studied through a textbook. Students interact with the voices of the past through primary sources, work through simulations designed to put them into the events and situations we study, and meet their elected officials and experts in the field. These experiences always foster the best thinking, the best discussion, and the best questions.”  

Why it is so important for today’s students to understand they have a voice in the political system?
“This is true not just for students, but for all Americans. After decades of extraordinarily low voter turnout, it seems clear that our country is facing an epidemic of apathy. Few of our Founders agreed on everything, but they were able to achieve compromise on most issues after engaging in significant dialogue. These kinds of conversations aren’t happening enough. Thus the challenge before history and government teachers is to offer students a chance to engage in thoughtful and informed deliberation.”

What trends/issues do you think may influence social studies teachers in the future?
“Social studies education continues to be negated to the back burner. Yet our classrooms are the ideal place for the kind of growth we need as a citizenry. Not in forcing students to believe one way or the other, but in facilitating their growth as active, free-thinking, informed citizens who can engage in critical thinking and dialogue.”  

What would your students say they had learned after spending a year in your class?
“If a student can leave my class with a stronger ability to deliberate, an appreciation for multiple perspectives, and a willingness to engage in productive and respectful dialogue, then I am happy. That is the end goal – to help students grow into people who can do their part in doing some good.”