My philosophy of education, in and out of the classroom, centers on preparing students for life. As I teach American history, I push students to question their preconceptions about our collective past as well as to advance their grasp of contemporary issues in light of historical antecedents. I also urge them to develop a healthy skepticism as they consider media pundits or partisan politicians who constantly appeal to history in order to bolster their own positions. History, I insist, is a tool that can help an individual become a culturally literate and informed citizen. In other words, my primary responsibility, beyond the teaching of content, is to help students develop a healthy world view as well as mature intellectually, think critically, objectively, and independently, and develop sound judgments. During lectures and discussions I ask students to consider both sides of an issue, and I utilize essay exams (at all levels) that encourage analytical thinking. As I encourage students to express their opinions openly, I am careful not to foist my personal opinion on a class. My task as an educator is not to indoctrinate, but to challenge students to think for themselves.