How to Be a History Professor

If you love History, or if you just need a job, or for whatever reason, here is how to be a History professor.


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    Know that History, like other branches of human intellectual activities is a vast and ramified subject. Everything has a history and people do scholarly works on that part of the history. Some good examples are :
    • History of Cooking
    • History of Mathematics
    • History of Painting
    • History of Ceramics
    • History of Musics
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    Know that the specialized histories of those disciplines normally will be taught and studied by people inside that specific subject to be able to judge value of historical events of that subject. For example, to teach the history of music, one should be well familiar with music (though perhaps not as much as an accomplished musician).
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    Evaluate your own expertise if you like to engage in one of the specialised types of history. If you are working on the art of painting, as a hobby you can start study history of painting to apply for teaching.
    • Have a brief study of history of painting from cave paintings to Greeks and Romans,
    • Ancient Hindi, Chines, Japanese paintings,
    • Africans and native Americans paintings
    • Painting in Middle Ages Europe, stained glass painting and story telling of churches, Mosaic paintings of Islamic cultures, Middle Eastern miniatures and Mongols of India,
    • Emergence of perspective and renaissance painting.
    • Continue until you get to present time abstraction, graphical arts, digital arts and so on.
    • This takes a couple of volume that one might enjoy during his spare time in few months.
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    Select a period that attracts you more, say, expressionists' era.
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    Dig deeper in their rise, their message, their fight and dominance and evolution and at last leaving the arena to a new style.
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    Select one of them and study his time and life and his works and significance of him.
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    Write six thousands words about this group; include almost half of it around the selected character. If reached to this point, you are ready to go ahead for becoming a teacher in that field.
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    Use flashcards. Gradually, you become convinced that without using flashcards and dedicating more commitment you cannot progress much. As a future teacher of history you cannot refrain using the main tools of academic works.
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    Notice that you have started to grow a desire to extend your study to near disciplines such as history of sculptors, architectures of nations, fine arts in general, as frequently you encounter a crosstalk among these that make you frustrated of carving out a section out of them.
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    Know that even in specialised histories one gradually becomes interested in studying general history as one cannot separate a human activity from the events that surround it. Social dynamism of human is woven together from the threads and strings which look diverse at the first sight, but not at the reality. Wars and natural disasters hinder the arts and kings and rulers can encourage and help them to flourish. That might take you to a new decision.
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    Decide if you are interested in general history rather than or on the side of the specialised subject.
    • Note that you might bypass the previous steps if from the beginning your desire is study of general history. Hence, put yourself in the crucible of test.
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    Know that in our modern time there is almost a recent foot step to begin study general history of man. You might have your own philosophical ideological taste to select from a range of general history books, but the one recommended here is one of the most read and readable.
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    Get the "Story of Civilization" by Will and Ariel Durant. This book is available on different formats, even free PDF and also in audio forms that you can listen on your MP3 device while driving or travelling to school or work. Best is to use both format.
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    Decide if you are a good story teller. You should be able to tell, by heart, a movie that you have seen to a friend or a member of family. You should remember all the details and do not skip over them.
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    Volunteer in a school to help teaching of verbal intensive subjects, such as history, geography, sociology, literature and creative writing. Students of these subjects expect their teachers not to use notes and be talkative. You can start as an assistant.
    • For having any job that deals with younger people you need a clean police check.
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    Avoid memorizing anything. One cannot teach by memorizing. You should study all the time such that in the classroom students only get the overflow of your boiling knowledge.
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    Remember, generally, a good teacher does not perform. He creates and delivers in the arena.
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    Go to crucible again. Study part of the Will Durant's that you like most. Select certain period of time and certain geopolitical entity of that period. Study that part with few chapters from important references available in public or school library. Write down some six seven thousand about that events. You should be able to remember relations of people and events and the roots and aftermaths of those events.
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    Use mind maps. Parallel to flashcards you need to use vastly mind maps for your own study and when you are teaching.
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    Take one course in sociology. Most of the modern teaching of history consists of social history and social analysis of events. Modern history does not look to events as separate adventures of certain kings, rulers and characters. In contrast, it studies history as a living evolving social phenomenon. Therefore, you need to have a minimum familiarity with sociology and its terminology per se. Then you can use it into your historical intellectualism.
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    Be surprised. Gradually you feel that you recognise yourself in a strange way more knowledgeable than average.
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    Become humble. Go into a large university library and look in shelves of history books with thousands of tomes and volumes of works done by your predecessors and see if you will be able to add a page a chapter or a volume to them.
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    Get the required formal education. Typically, this means you have to graduate from a college or university. In addition, you may need a degree to teach at college level. A degree in History will demonstrate your commitment to the field and dedication to academic work. Your school might require that you pass certain curriculum in teacher training, besides your degree in History
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    Apply for a job with the local school departments.
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    If accepted, teach the courses according to the school's curriculum.


  • It helps to major in History during your time at college.
  • Do academic research. Be prolific in writing new books and peer-reviewed journal articles.
  • Letters of recommendation are usually the key to land a job, so make sure you get the best references you can from senior professors (preferably department chairs).
  • Be open to inquiries, curiosities, skepticism, and occasional heckling of students. History easily becomes mixed up with politics and makes you head to head with students with different background strata of growth and cultivation. Help them out of their blind points related to your discourse.
  • Be prepared for each lecture. For your first few lectures, practise beforehand and time yourself.
  • Associate with your colleagues. Learn about their interests and find ways to participate.


  • Should you decide to be friendly as a matter of being approachable to students, you must also maintain a distance, air of authority, professionalism and respect.

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Categories: Teaching