Recently, Professor of History Clifton Hood had to face one of his toughest audiences yet – a group of more than 240 middle school students from the Archdiocese of New Jersey. In conjunction with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Hood gave a presentation on the history of immigration in the United States.
Hood had previous experience with the Gilder Lehrman Institute, a nonprofit organization that supports the study of American history through programs and resources for students, teachers, scholars, and history enthusiasts, having taught several teacher training sessions for the organization in the past.
This lecture, however, marked a new achievement. Presented with the unique challenge of teaching seventh and eighth graders, Hood consulted advisee Courtney Good ’12 for help. Good introduced Hood to the idea of “the hook” – an opening gambit to gain the attention of the pre-teens.
Hood had each of the middle school students draw a picture of an immigrant, and then had them describe their illustration. With drawings ranging from immigrants of the past to those of the present day, students quickly realized that immigration is much more complicated than they could imagine. “It made them realize that, really, we should be drawing a mural,” says Hood, who was pleased with the positive response from the students.
“My subjects deal with the subway and New York City – subjects a lot of different audiences are interested in,” explains Hood. “So it was really nice to have a new opportunity for presenting my research. One of the benefits of academia is that it allows you to encounter new – and fun – challenges.”
In June, Hood will give the talk once again – this time to students from the Archdiocese in New York City. Thanks to the enthusiastic response of the young and excited seventh and eighth graders in New Jersey, Hood says he is even better prepared for the types of questions asked by those younger than his usual student.
For more information about the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, visit their website at http://www.gilderlehrman.org/.
In the photo above, Clifton Hood is featured with Courtney Good.