This blog is operated by former journalist and history teacher Mike Maxwell. I taught world and U.S. history at Mancos High School in southwest Colorado for a dozen years, and I have been operating the StudentsFriend.com website for world history teachers since 2001. I have a BA in history and a MPA in public affairs, both from the University of Colorado.
As a young soldier in Vietnam, I discovered the power of history to inform judgment about the future—but as a history teacher I became increasingly frustrated by history education’s seeming inability to provide students with knowledge that would be useful for living their lives in the present and future.
When I left the classroom, I set out to resolve this dilemma. Following a seven-year investigation, I published Future-Focused History Teaching: Restoring the Power of Historical Learning, a book that describes what I found to be the most powerful and practical means to provide students and society with important historical knowledge relevant to the future, and thereby to arrest the ongoing decline of history education in the nation’s schools and colleges.
Following release of the book, I encountered other history teachers who shared similar passions and frustrations about history education. I started this blog in the summer of 2019 to provide a place to collect information about future-focused history learning and to support a community of educators interested in learning about and advancing the concept. If you might be one of these, I invite you to sign up to follow—and participate in—this blog.
As I was about to publish Future-Focused History Teaching, I decided to also publish a second book, The Student’s Friend Concise World History. I developed the Student’s Friend for use in my classroom, and I have been making it available free to teachers (and everyone else) over the Internet since 2001. Unlike traditional thousand-page textbooks, the Student’s Friend is designed to describe the sweep of world history in a clear and concise manner that is capable of being comprehended by the human brain.
The two books are related: The Student’s Friend Concise World History is compatible with basic cognitive learning strategies identified in Future-Focused History Teaching. And the Student’s Friend provides a big picture of human development through time, which is one of four kinds of historical knowledge identified in Future-Focused History Teaching as suitable for history instruction. Both books are available from Amazon and other booksellers.
I am not here to sell books or to sell myself. I am here to sell an idea, the logical and powerful idea that knowledge from the past can inform judgment in the future. I developed the books and the blog as means toward that end.
Best regards, Mike
The photo above was taken in one of my favorite haunts, the redrock canyon country of southeastern Utah. The image of receding stone windows on the front page was photographed at the Inca site of Machu Picchu, Peru.