NCTC faculty attend national humanities conference

Elizabeth F. Abu | Dec 12, 2017

Four of North Central Texas College’s faculty, Crystal Wright, Pat Ledbetter, Robin Cole-Jett and Jane England, recently attended the Community College Humanities Association (CCHA) national convention held in Baltimore, Maryland. The CCHA is the only national organization devoted to promoting humanities studies in community colleges. It sponsors conferences and seminars, publishes a professional journal, and provides a forum for humanities educators to exchange ideas, discuss discipline specific issues, and cooperate in problem solving. Professor England is a CCHA Liaison Officer and is on the planning committee for the 2018 Southwest Regional Conference which will be held in Dallas. In Baltimore, she and Professor Cole-Jett served as moderators for two of the conference sessions.

The first activity attended by the NCTC educators was a day long workshop which included a train trip to Washington, D.C. where participants toured the Supreme Court, the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress and the African-American Museum. Ledbetter commented, “Attending the CCHA conference always reminds me of how much teaching the humanities matters in today’s world.  The highlight of this meeting was the group tour of the recently-opened African American Museum in Washington, D.C., a truly amazing experience.  I was most inspired by a conversation overheard in the slavery exhibit. In the same tone kids use to resist getting out of the swimming pool, a girl about ten years old was protesting having to leave the museum at 5:00. The mother patiently explained she had only allotted one day for this museum, and the little girl replied, “Well, you really messed up!” When a child is upset about not having enough time in a museum you know it is an important place.”

On the second and third days of the conference, attendees had a variety of secessions from which to choose, one hundred and two in all, organized around topics that ranged from “Critical Thinking and the Power of Social Media” to “Interactive Shakespeare for Today’s Students.” The Conference also scheduled presentations on funding opportunities offered by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program and the American Council of Learned Societies. Professors Wright, Ledbetter, England and Cole-Jett each selected different programs to attend so that they would have a broader range of information to share with colleagues at home and to integrate into their classes. For example Professor Cole-Jett was greatly impressed by a poetry presentation that she attended. She noted, “Conferences like the CCHA help instructors so much. During this conference, I learned new teaching techniques and discovered new research that I know will enhance my own instruction. For example, I was introduced to “blackout poetry” that reverses colonial language by having the reader take control of the narrative. I have already implemented a research finding made by Dr. John Lowler of Reading Community College. He counted the number of times the word “extermination” appeared in contemporary government documents when it related to the Sioux in the post-Civil War period, and discovered that it was used against the tribe over 2,000 times. This is a very significant finding that explains much about the federal policies regarding the Plains tribes.”

The various speakers and presentations offered at the CCHA Conference illustrate the importance of a strong humanities program and the advantages of interdisciplinary approaches to teaching. “NCTC faculty members constantly seek ways to improve their teaching and to diversify the curriculum. Attending conferences such as the CCHA, where one is able to tailor opportunities to specific interests and needs, is an effective means of achieving current professional development goals and setting new ones for the future,” said England.

 

baltimore-2017.jpeg

North Central Texas College Professors (L to R) Jane England, Dr. Pat Ledbetter & Crystal Wright recently attended a national Humanities conference in Maryland.