Teacher of the Month
L. Christian Smith

Christian Smith is regarded as a man of compassion by all who know him. His commitment to further the lives and careers of minority students places him in high regard, even several years after the students leave his class. "I was truly blessed with many good ones [teachers], said M. Irene Daniel Attorney at Law, class of 1987, but I always found you to be the most delightfully extraordinary."

Teaching Philosophy

  1. Show up--Blessed, really blessed with a strong constitution (physical and mental). I have never missed a day of teaching since 1961 except when other professional assignments have conflicted. This, of course, indicates my strong belief that the first characteristic of quality teaching is a strong desire and most important a stronger enthusiasm to meet your students both in and out of class. I have had a well known "open door" policy since the beginning in a somewhat historically interesting office. (The office was "captured" in the Hollywood film "Campus man"). Nothing beats availability to your students. (See attached unsolicited letter about my office).
  2. Blessed again! I have been privileged to teach U.S. History for 35 years now. Learning about reading, about writing about, this nation and its culture has been simply stated my life's passion and I get to share it in many ways. History to me explains a portion of what it means to be human and to live a life in a certain place, in a certain era and in a certain way. I also always attempt to understand what we can learn from the human record of the past and how to confront today what the past can teach us about the quality of life.
  3. Blessed for the third and last time--I like people, I learn from people, A.S.U. provides people. I believe everybody is different and unique and excitingly human and deserves to be treated with as much human dignity and attention as possible regardless of class size in a large university.

Creativity in the classroom--depends some on class size.

Through the years I have used a variety of approached--many of the students are encouraged to write family histories placing their families in a certain chronological period-the Great Depression, the l950's and so on or by writing about the cultural attitudes of their families toward work, education, mobility, religion and so forth. This is always a optional assignment for obvious reasons. In recent years I have used my chautauqua training and have required in my senior seminars and made optional in other courses that students pick a historical character, research that character and give a presentation for the class in character and also the hard part answer questions from the class in character. I have also had groups cook early American food and share it and other groups perform dances and songs of the past.

Also, since the beginning of my teaching career I have shared my enthusiasm for the books (some modern and some very antiquarian) and the artifacts of U.S. History that overflow my office and home. Routinely I use the "things" of the past in my classes. Daniel Boors tin has argued that we are striving to become "a democracy of things" and others have argued that the material things of an era are a vital signposts to understanding the past. Regardless they certainly are great classroom motivators. I would plan to use a portion of a student assistant's time to help me plan a more rational and systematic use and sharing of my various collections for the large classes of A.S.U. These collections range from old books, dairies, almanacs, political buttons (vital for 1996), tools, paper Americana and on and on. I often ask even a large class that people share their oldest thing they own or other family things (often they are cultural icons) with the class.

Basically then I plan "to keep on keeping on." I am what I am and this stage. I hope to share what insights I have learned about this nations' past with future students of A.S.U. for a number of years get and that means I will also have the privilege of learning from them. Thank you for reading this.

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Curriculum Vitae - L. Christian Smith

Teaching Vita
Department of History
Arizona State University


Union College-Schenectady, New York 9/55-1/60, B.A. 1/60 (Social Sciences)
University of New Mexico 1/57-6/57
New York University, New York City 1/60-8/60 (Law)
Long Island Brooklyn, New York 1/61-8/61 Graduate Courses (Education)
University of Urbana, Illinois 6/65-8/65, 9/66-5167 MA (U.S. History)
University of Urbana, Illinois 9/68-5/72 Ph.D. 5/72 (U.S. History)
Dissertation: "An Intellectual and Social Biographyof John Clark Ridpath-Popular Historian."

Employment Record:
6/1956-1/1957 Apprentice Roofer
1/1960-5/1960 Great American Insurance Company, New York City, Underwriter
5/1960-9/1961 Texaco Inc., New York City, Financial and Management Trainee
6/1950 Part-time and summers positions. Moving man, landscape gardener, bookseller, Santa Clause, factory work, painter, truck and bus driver, waiter, bartender and varied other assorted positions some of which have helped me understand American culture, comtemporary America (my academic specialities) and certainly provide a healthy perspective on academic life in general.

Teaching Experience:

1961-1968 with a year off to obtain my MA degree, I taught in two secondary and junior high schools in New York State. I taught a wide range or courses--U.S. History, World History, Social Studies 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade, Biology, General Science, Ancient History and Humanities.
1968-1971 University of Illinois, Teaching Associate--U.S. History 100 level and 200 level courses. Summer Teaching Fellow (1970) given for excellence as a Teaching Associate.
1971-1996 Arizona State University, Area-U.S. History. Undergraduate courses taught--U.S. History survey, History 103 and 104 (or from the Puritans to Watergate and beyond), History 191 (Freshman Experience), History 303 and 304 American Cultural History, History 411 (Contemporary America (post-1945),History 498's (senior seminars) Nature and American Culture, Work and American Culture, History 494, U.S. History 1968 to the Present. I also have continued to offer for the History Department graduate courses primarily in the area of U.S. Historiography.

Teaching Honors, A.S.U.:

1975 Nominated for first Annual Dean's Quality Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
1976 One of the two recipients--Deans Quality Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
1979 Nominated for above, declined.
1983 Nominated for the above
1988 Nominated for the above
1987 Nominated for Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award
1988 Recipient, Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni Teaching Award.
1988 Certificate of Appreciation, Learning Support Center
1995 Graduate Student Council Outstanding Mentor Award
1995 Recipient First Annual College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Advising and Mentoring, one of two awardees.

Scholarly Activities Related to Teaching:

Nineteen years-1977 to present Faculty Co-Advisor Phi Alpha Theta, A.S.U.'s chapter of the History Honorary Society

Service to the College Board and Educational Testing Service--1976-1996. Eight years as a reader and grader U.S. History Advanced Placement Examinations. Eight years as a Table leader and three years as a Question leader setting national grading standards for the examinations. This has always been a one week to ten day commitment of my time early every June.

Faculty Ambassador--A.S.U. Over fifteen visits to Arizona high school teachers and students of the social studies and history.

More than twenty workshops--1985 to the present sponsored by the College Board in Arizona, Nevada and California. These are weekend workshops for advanced placement teachers. Subject areas of my presentations include teaching with artifacts, teaching social and cultural history, teaching essay writing and so forth.

Four elected three-year terms to the Quality of Instruction Committee, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 1977-1966. Presently in second year of an elected three years terms to The College's Students Grievance Committee. One year member Task Force on Undergraduate Education 1989-1990. Member of the Committee on Academic Advising Excellence 1995-1996. Have also served three year (elected) terms to the Standards Committee, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Book and film reviews for The History Teacher published at California State University at Long Beach.

Panel member (invited) National Council on the Social Studies, New York, March 1986, "Teaching with Artifacts and Oral History."

Panel Member (invited) Organization of American Historians, Washington, D.C. March 1990 "Artifacts in the Classroom."

Several other presentations concerning my teaching areas have been made to such groups as the Popular Culture Association, Center for Popular Culture, Bowling Green University, Western Social Science Association, Coordinating Committee on History in Arizona, U.S. History Advanced Placement readers and the Rocky Mountain Regional Conference on the Social Studies.

Service to Arizona Humanities Council and their Speakers Bureau, probably two hundred twenty-five statewide-sponsored appearances since 1974 to various citizen groups teaching them concepts about history. Subjects of my talks have included ones on American humor, History from the Bottom Up, American attitudes toward nature and great American myths for fun and profit. Recently (1993) I was trained by the Arizona Humanities Council to do historical Chautauqua and I have played the character William Mulholland (the water czar of L.A. in early 1900's) to help audiences understand their historical attitudes toward nature. This has also shaped my recent teaching. (see my statement)

Active with the Honors program students, classes are often listed for honor student enrollment and I have served on and supervised several undergraduate committees for students honor's work over the years.

For the last eight years I have been the History Departments primary liaison person with the College of Education concerning the selection and advising of potential secondary school teachers of the social studies.

Twenty years of teaching Correspondence Courses (History 103, 104, 304, 411) for the A.S.U. Extension Division. This has allowed me to work with a wonderful mix of people from all over the nation and the world.

Historical Bulletin Board. Have maintained for many, many years two large bulletin boards outside my office filled with clippings of a historical nature, serious, semi-serious and comic. Probably one of the most read bulletins boards on campus, a true center for the unsystematic study of history.

Guadalupe Summer Program, June 1994. One week working with 9th grade students preparing them for high school and an attempt to encourage remaining in school. My subject "History and You" sponsored by A.S.U. Faculty Ambassadors.

Department of History new committee on teaching for our MA and Ph.D. students. Seminars on undergraduate teaching (1995-1996).

National History Day Judge--state regionals and state final at the AZ Capital Museum. I have done this consistently since the mid 1980's.

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