American Exceptionalism in the Eyes of High School Students

OldGloryMatthew Davisson has been teaching several sections of United States history at The Covenant School in Charlottesville, VA for nearly fifteen years. He has also served as an AP exam reader for several years, and I know he has worked alongside Jonathan Den Hartog in that capacity. Mr. Davisson has had a reputation for being a larger-than-life teacher of history at Covenant for the entire time he has taught there. He and I taught at the same time briefly at Covenant–I was teaching Bible courses in 2000-2001 when he first came, so we go way back.

Davisson is famous for showing up for class in character. He comes as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, and numerous other luminaries of US history. When he lectures, he is loud, gregarious, dramatic, and just fun to take in. His lectures are always the picture of organization, but not stuffy or stifling. He engages the students, brings them out, and his love for history is for them as contagious as a childhood disease.

His students had a joint history/English project in which they wrote on the meaning of American exceptionalism. I asked Davisson if it would be all right if I shared some of his students’ work here on the blog. He checked in with his students, and they all graciously agreed to allow me to post some of their insights. Be checking in over the next several days to see what Davisson’s juniors are saying about American exceptionalism. This will prove to be a fascinating window into the perspectives of high school students from a diverse range of backgrounds on this topic.

I’ll start posting tomorrow. Stay tuned for some thoughtful analysis!


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