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.