Andy-Curriculum Development Director
I’ve lived in Rhode Island for the last eighteen years. I love the history of the state and the value that people here put on preserving and living amidst history. I live in a very old house (built in 1790) in Pawtuxet Village. Pawtuxet Village was the sight of a little-known, but according to Rhode Islanders—very significant—moment of armed resistance against Britain prior the Revolutionary War. The burning of the HMS Gaspee is celebrated with great enthusiasm by many thousands of Rhode Islanders every June. It all happens right down the street from me.
Being in interesting places has definitely stimulated my interest in history and international issues. I’ve had the privilege to live and work in several countries. For example, I spent time in the Soviet Union as it moved from perestroika to unraveling and witnessed some incredible things. I taught high school in Brazil from 1990-1992. These places and others created an interest in understanding the dynamics of those societies, which eventually led me to grad school and on to Choices.
What is your favorite Choices Curriculum Unit? Why?
My favorite is usually whatever we are working on revising or creating. The information is exciting and engaging and we are in contact with scholars who are excited about the topic too. That said, I am proud of materials that introduce new interpretations of history, provide access to topics not commonly covered, or help students wrestle with all sides of complex contemporary issues.
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
I worked as a maple sugarer in Vermont for a few seasons. In addition to hauling sap out of the woods, my job was to keep the fire stoked with the right balance of four-feet pieces of hard and soft cordwood. Hot maple syrup and sour dill pickles are a shockingly unexpected tasty combination.
What is the best part about working on the Choices Staff?
My colleagues are all super talented and committed to collaboration. Fortunately, they all like a good laugh as well.
If you could trade jobs with any other person on the Choices Staff who would it be and why?
I don’t think I have the talent to do what other people on staff do. I really enjoy what I do and wouldn’t want to trade.
What is your favorite period in history/Topic in social studies?
I am really interested in those moments when a society experiences a profound shift or upheaval. Revolts and rebellions, from the individual to the societal level, interest me. In addition, I also like drilling down to understand the experiences of non-elite members of a society
What are you working on now?
My writing colleagues and I are working on five major projects rights now. We are revising Russia’s Transformation to include the effect of Putin’s return to the presidency. We are well into a new curriculum on decolonization in Africa that will examine case studies in Ghana, Algeria, Kenya, and Congo. We are nearly finished with a major revision of our materials on Indian Independence that will reflect new scholarship on the topic. These three are all likely to be done by summer 2013. These two next projects will take a little longer. We are developing a new curriculum on contemporary Turkey. Finally, we working on a major update of our curriculum on American Revolution and Constitution. This too will reflect new scholarship and incorporate more social history.
What is the most interesting part of the curriculum design process?
There are lots of phases that are interesting and even fun. Collaborating with a scholar and hearing their views of what’s essential to cover provides shape to the research we do. Researching and discovering important and new interpretations of events is great, especially as all of us enjoy sharing this kind of thing with each other. We all sit in the same room and it’s not unusual to exclaim aloud about a new discovery or idea. As we do our research, collect sources, produce the Scholars Online videos, and develop the student text, there are some interesting moments when the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together. This is when there is a high degree of collaboration and vetting of ideas. It’s pretty interesting most of the time.