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“I’m not interested in my students memorizing facts about history. What good is it to know WWI started with the assassination of an Austrian prince in Sarajevo, if you don’t understand why?”
Donald Grumfield
History teacher | JFK High School, (TX)

Donald Grumfield—or “Coach Grumf,” as he was affectionately named by his ’84 state football champs—is, hands down, the most intimidating teacher at JFK High School. He’s also the most popular teacher and coach, thirty-eight years running.

 

What motivates you to teach history to teenagers after all these years?

The facts of history are not really the point. The point is there’s something to learn from history. To quote my favorite Brit, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” And I would add, those who do learn from it shape the future.

Ultimately, I’m motivated when I see students and athletes take responsibility for their lives—and that only happens when they exercise discipline everyday.

My classroom is a two-way street. I do my part, and I expect them to do theirs.—Donald Grumfield

How do you decide if a student’s experience in your class has been a success?

Success is measured after the fact. When I hear about former students taking a firm hold of the reins of their life, that’s success. It’s the kids who become the first college graduates in their families. It’s the athlete who’s determined to learn from every success and failure.

It’s a victory when they learn to learn from the past—from their own experiences,  from those around them, even from history—to become better men and women in all areas of life.

I’m relentless about learning from experience. That’s something Coach Grumf taught us, whether in history class or on the field. I keep a game journal in bulb to keep track of  the improvements I need to make from week to week.—Mouontain West All-Conference Quarterback, Camden Jones

 

How does bulb help you prepare students for life?

My classroom is all about learning through interaction and reflection. They are expected to read the basic facts of history ahead of time. I require them to complete reading summaries before class, along with some suggested discussion questions. They also collect weekly “Lessons Learned from History” in bulb—including lessons they can personally apply to their lives.

After a year of this disciplined work, they have an entire bulb collection of the most important events in history, along with practical lessons they learned—all in one place.

 

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