Fort Leavenworth, Kansas - The Military History Instructor Course is primarily for Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadre, state military academy instructors, and others with a requirement to teach U.S. military history to cadets, candidates, and student officers. This year, however, several students outside of these norms attended the class, held earlier this month here. These nontraditional students included professional educators, historians, administrators, and retirees, who either have no military experience or have not had it for a long while.
The knowledge they gained and the engaging exchange between them and their military counterparts sparked some interesting discoveries.
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One student found the course useful in learning how to analyze contemporary problems.
"You don't find the answers to current problems in history, but you do see the way people looked at those problems," said John Minney, an instructor at Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama.
Other students found having service members present who understood modern warfare and have participated in some of the historical events discussed during the course added a dimension to the class.
"It was good to learn about modern land combat; not just how Soldiers walked across a battlefield to their death," said John R. Dreyer, a political science professor from Rapid City, South Dakota.
"It's informative to hear from people who have actually been in some of these battles," said Rebecca Seaman, a military history instructor at East Carolina University, adding, "I really appreciate knowing where the resources (for teaching history) are!"
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"I was in the service before the Global War on Terrorism so this course gave me a better idea of how the military is training a new generation of leaders," added Edward Braese, a volunteer for Passing the Torch, an Association of the United States Army program where veterans voluntarily help teach leadership to the next generation of military leaders. Braese is a retired command sergeant major.
The nontraditional students gained a favorable impression of service members' analytical skills and academic acumen as the result of their interaction in the class. "If you study history, you know that Soldiers do look at problems analytically," said Dryer.
"I feel more confident in a military educational environment than at an academic conference," Minney said.
"The military is steps ahead of the civilian world in leadership training," offered Greg Grenard, a department administrator at Loyola University at Chicago. "I'm not surprised."
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Students said the MHIC experience was mutually beneficial and illuminating for military and nontraditional students of the course.
"The instructors - and some of the students - are continuing to steward the profession," said DeMarcus Hopson, state historian for Kentucky. "Just like their predecessors, those that went before are passing it on to the next generation."
Uniformed personnel also gave the nontraditional students high marks from their experience with them in the class room.
"Most of these people are professional educators. They have that experience that they can bring to the table," said Military History Instructor Course Director Lt. Col. John T. Wimberley. "They're high quality people. They know why they're here. They're professionals who want to learn. It makes teaching the course a lot easier."