professional educational experience has been entirely in public
institutions of learning. All of my education was in public
institutions of learning. And yet much of my education has come
from sources outside these institutions. I have had helpful
teachers, professors and colleagues along the way and I thank
God for them.
I have spent 35 years in the public schools teaching a variety of
subjects in the social studies; American history, American
politics, the United States Constitution and Economics. I spent
23 years in public institutions as a student obtaining various
degrees. I graduated from
Pennsbury High School (1967) in Lower Bucks County,
My undergraduate degree (BA, Sociology, 1971) and Master’s
degree (1984, M.Ed. History) was from Shippensburg College
(University), Pennsylvania, and my Ph.D. was from the
State University (1995, Curriculum and Instruction).
In my graduate degrees I tried to concentrate on the historical aspects
of whatever I was studying. While pursuing a master’s degree I
took every history course I could put into my schedule, even
though it was an education degree. I did the same with my
doctoral studies. My Ph.D. dissertation was on the religious
content of history textbooks used in high school classes during
the 19th century and early 20th century.
Learning, studying and teaching history has been my life-long
professional and personal passion. This website is simply an
extension of that interest in history.
Why do I have this interest in history? I think some of this is a desire
to understand the world and people. Studying history is a
window into the meaning of life. History offers sign posts to
meaning beyond this life. As John Eldredge suggests in his
excellent little book, Epic: The Story God is Telling and the
Role That Is Yours to Play, the stories of history point to
a greater and original story. In Christianity we discover this
greater story and we are told how it ends.
A major reason for this interest was my conversion to the Christian faith
which took place during my undergraduate studies at
Shippensburg University. I should explain this so that you will
know why this Christian influence is so important in my life and
My interest in the Christian religion was first stimulated by my parents
(Charles C., Jr. and Betty L. C. Shannon) who became evangelical
Christians when I was in junior high school. They went from
being nice, moral, church-goers to becoming disciples of Jesus
Christ who entered their lives and transformed their lives. At
first, their families thought they had “gone off the deep end,”
but this relationship with Jesus really changed them. I could
see that, but I did not desire such change for myself. Instead,
I pursued the pleasures and interests of a teenager in the
1960s. But I did hear the message of evangelical preachers and
I also had a teacher in high school who encouraged me to read a
good book. I was not much interested in reading good books; I
was more interested in my social life. The book in this
literature class was Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and
Punishment. The part of the book that impressed me was
Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov’s self-righteous attitude that
caused him to think of himself as superior to others and his
struggle with internal guilt and his eventual release from guilt
and forgiveness through the resurrection of Jesus from the
grave. I did not immediately respond to this message, but
seeds were being sown, and of all places, in a public high
I continued in my pursuit of pleasure and social acceptance, but all the
while I wanted my life to count for something good. Remember,
this was the height of the sixties youth culture and the
revolution taking place on college campuses. Even conservative
Shippensburg College was somewhat influenced by these events in
the late 1960s and early 1970s. I changed my major to Sociology
thinking that this would be an opportunity to serve people. I
even explored transferring to another school to pursue a career
in the medical field. During my sophomore year I had a course
which studied the Greek poets and philosophers. This further
developed my interest in studying the meaning of life, but the
pagan Greeks had no satisfying answer to this question. I had
some friends who were interested in poetry readings and coffee
houses and who were dabbling in various religious and humanistic
psychological experiences. We indulged in wine and cheese
parties, listened to the Beatles’ White Album and
discussed the meaning of life.
During the summer of 1969, I was gradually converted to Christianity and
I became a follower of Jesus Christ. This was more a process
than an instantaneous event. There was no evangelist and no
public decision at a church service. Most of the change took
place while I worked at a summer construction job and visited
New Jersey beaches on the weekends. Conversion to Christ meant
turning from my former life of pleasure seeking. Now I began
studying the Bible with the goal of knowing Christ. Now I
studied the Bible as God’s word to me. I began categorizing its
teaching and writing out what it said. I returned to the
Shippensburg campus a new person with a new direction. I still
struggled with old habits, but now I sought out the Christians
on campus and identified with them.
Back in classes I was in the lion’s den in where professors who were
hostile toward the Bible and historic Christianity, attacked the
Christian faith. It seemed like the former ministers were the
most vicious in their attacks. I was forced to study history,
philosophy and the defense of Christianity. In sociology and
psychology classes I encountered thorough-going atheistic and
naturalistic humanism that taught all morals were relative and
there was no absolute truth. Classes in sensitivity training
and psychology sought to inculcate the values of Enlightenment
humanism into me. I had to study Christian theology and history
as much as a studied my course work. I was read and studied the
Christian view of any topic that professors introduced in
class. I had to do the double of the work of the typical
student, but this discipline and training would benefit me in
the long run.
The last two years of undergraduate studies were an intensive time of
study of the Christian religion and the philosophies and
religions of the world. I continued these kinds of studies
after graduation. I invested significant time studying John
Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, J.I.
Packer’s Knowing God, Philip Schaff’s History of the
Christian Church, numerous books by Francis Schaeffer,
Benjamin B. Warfield, C.S. Lewis and various Puritan writers.
It was during these years that I began to sense I had some
interest in and an ability to teach young people. After
doing some teaching in the church, I decided to return to
Shippensburg College to pursue a teaching degree. I
concentrated on the study of history as I took courses toward a
teaching certificate and a Masters of Education degree. At
Shippensburg College I had some gifted and inspiring professors,
Dr. Paul Gill and Dr. Jack Morrison were two of the best. These
men were interesting story-tellers and scholars who knew their
history. They were also excellent teachers who encouraged their
students and pushed us to excel.
I began my teaching career in 1976 at a junior high school. My students
were 7th and 8th graders whom I taught
World History and American History. I later transferred to high
school and began teaching Civics (in particular, the
Constitution of the United States) and American politics.
For the past twenty years I have taught these subjects as well
as American history.
At the beginning of my public school teaching career I was introduced to
the moral relativism of the popular “Values Clarification”
curriculum. As part of the requirements for continuing my
employment I wrote a paper on this new educational innovation.
I was highly critical of attempt to indoctrinate students in a
philosophy of relativism, but I am not sure that anyone read my
criticism. Administrators don’t usually have the time or energy
for serious intellectual engagement. I never received any
response to my criticism.
The academic public school establishment protested that they were not
teaching moral relativism and only right-wing fanatics were
complaining. They were just helping students explore their own
personal moral beliefs. But if you read the literature on
Values Clarification, you could see clearly the philosophical
relativism of the theorists. Thirty-five years later the fruit
of moral relativism is apparent in the approval of the
homosexual lifestyle by the public school establishment.
I had other conflicts with secular administrators who did not like my
inclusion of religious history in teaching American history.
One administrator complained that I was teaching about
Anabaptists as champions of religious freedom. What did they
have to do with American history? So, when teaching about
religious liberty in
America I was told I could not teach about religious liberty
origins among the Anabaptists in Europe. This school
controversy ended in a kind of stalemate. Administrators
seeking to advance their careers moved on to new school
districts; I moved on to teaching higher grades.
These leftist secularists might have actually helped me to achieve more
balance in my teaching, instead they tried to silence me.
Nevertheless, I was learning to include a variety of viewpoints
in my teaching. This included the identification of leftist
philosophy which normally remains hidden in the public school
curriculum. The public school establishment liked to think of
itself as fair, moderate and not biased. They could not see or
chose to be blind to their own hostility to Christian or
conservative views of the world. They labeled anyone who
opposed their philosophical naturalism and secularism as
fanatical and right wing.
In teaching American history I have sought to give a fair representation
of leftist and liberal philosophy and to trace its
consequences. I have also sought to give an accurate account of
the Christian influences on the American nation. Some students
have been so indoctrinated into anti-religious attitudes that
they ask if it is legal if we talk about religion in history
I taught ninth grade civics for quite a few years. In these courses I
emphasized the study of the Constitution of United States.
Studying the Constitution was rewarding, but I moved on to teach
American history during the last several years. I think I was
wearing thin teaching younger students and I needed more mature
students. Unfortunately, even in the upper grades of public
school you will find many immature students, both intellectually
and socially. If you teach the Advanced Placement courses in a
public high school you will have students with more motivation.
In classes with the general population of students you will
encounter illiterate students and even anti-literate students.
There is a growing minority of students who oppose learning.
They know they must pass classes but they chose to only do the
bare minimum of work to pass. Most students do not possess a
desire to learn or a curiosity about the world and history.
I thought my career in high school was leading to a dead end in the early
1990s. I was discouraged by the lack of motivation in my
students. I decided to pursue a graduate degree wit h the
intent of moving into college teaching. I attended the
Pennsylvania State University where amidst a sea of political
correctness and liberalism I found some professors who were
islands of reason and true scholarship. My year of sabbatical
leave was quite enjoyable as I researched and wrote and taught
undergraduates. I graduated from
State in 1995 with a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.
All of these studies were taken with a view of integrating the Christian
faith into my teaching and research. I emerged from graduate
studies strengthened in my faith in Christ. I fully intended to
go into college teaching and began sending out resumes to
potential employers. But now I had children who were entering
high school and we decided not to uproot them from their friends
and our families. So I went back to high school teaching with
new insights and motivation.
My goal in my teaching has been to provide students with a reasoned
defense of the Christian faith. This is not something that they
normally hear in the public schools. I am not sure I have
succeeded in this goal. I have tried to display a Christian
character by being patient and forgiving and I hope I have
improved in these qualities. I have certainly not always given
students the best I had to offer; time restraints have not
always allowed me to do all I wanted to do. I have found high
school teaching intellectually challenging, especially as the
teacher must digest a lot of history in order to bring
understanding to his students. In a twentieth century course on
American history, how much material can you cover in 18 weeks?
What content do you eliminate? What is important for students
to understand? And the target keeps moving because now I have
35 more years of history from when I started teaching. In 1976
when I started teaching the Vietnam War was fresh in everyone’s
mind, but now it is fading and new wars have taken center stage
and new enemies of American freedom have emerged.
Perhaps this website will help make up for those places where I have
My teaching career is coming to an end just when
America is engaged in a great battle for its survival against
the forces of Islamism and Leftism. The public schools are a
tool of the Leftists to advance their agenda, but that is not
the whole story. There are many individual teachers who are an
obstacle to this agenda. I hope I have offered my students an
alternative to the leftist agenda.
I hope other teachers will start their own websites to counter this
Leftist agenda in public institutions of learning.
To God be the glory.