Husband. Father. Teacher. Now, Podcaster.
My name is Michael Sandstrom and I am history teacher in northwest Nebraska. Growing up in rural Nebraska, I knew little of the outside world. I had a happy childhood, as I ran, played outdoors, and caused only minor mischief (hopefully). My outlet to the rest of the world, however, has always been history. I was fortunate enough to have teachers, at all levels, that fostered a love for learning about the past. Consequently, as I graduated high school, I set upon a path to teaching history.
Post-Secondary Education Background:
I completed my Bachelor’s of Science (BS) in Social Studies Secondary education from Chadron State College in 2013. A year later, I commenced my graduate degree from Chadron State College, a Masters of Education (MAE) in History. My selection for the James Madison Fellowship highlighted my graduate experience. The James Madison Fellowship Foundation is an organization established by Congress in 1986 to promote the teaching of America’s constitutional foundations. The James Madison Fellowship Summer Institute held at Georgetown University every summer allows Fellows to learn from distinguished faculty and engross themselves in America’s constitutional origins. The summer of 2016 at Georgetown altered my goals and outlook toward history. In June 2017, I completed my degree and looked for the next challenge. I found that opportunity in Gilder Lehrman’s Masters degree in American History. The program allows students to take courses from well-known scholars and enhance their teaching abilities. In 2020, I complete Gilder Lehrman’s program through Pace University in May 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic raged across the United States. My experience in this program pushed me toward establishing my own platform to research and discuss the past.
Throughout my educational journey, I taught history at the high school level in Colorado and Nebraska. I spent three years in northeastern Colorado before returning to northwestern Nebraska. Throughout my career, I taught mostly American history, but I have also taught Civics, World History, and Cultural Relations courses. In addition, my duties included Advanced Placement and dual-credit courses in American history and government through the local colleges.
In 2019, I was selected as Gilder Lehrman’s Nebraska History Teacher of the Year. A year later, the Nebraska Department of Education selected me as a finalist for the Nebraska Teacher of the Year. These honors, along with my acceptance into National History Day’s Silent Heroes Project, were highlights of my professional career. This podcast is an outgrowth of my desire to reach as many ears as possible. I enjoy my classroom and students, but I believe that I can reach more listeners and readers without the confines of space and time. As you listen, remember that I consider myself both a teacher and a lifelong learner.
Civic competence and historical knowledge should command a prominent role in America’s educational system. Throughout the twentieth century, however, a disconnect developed between the goal of education and the pursuit of an enlightened and empowered citizenry. America’s political institutions responded to troubling trends in mathematics, reading, and standardized testing by promoting a rigorous yet narrow-minded approach to educational outcomes. The political solutions created, or at least enlarged, the incongruences between historical study and the desired educational outcomes. As the divisiveness of the 2016 and 2020 elections illustrated, American society needs a knowledgeable body of citizens to withstand the overt negativity, especially in regards to the media. As an educator, I began to notice that students’ disengagement from history often involved its foreign nature. It is often repeated that the past is a foreign country and for many students this trope is all too accurate. Consequently, I connect local history with the national currents from our class. In that way, I hope to familiarize students with the way our rural locality affects and participates in the national narrative. Students believe that they possess all the required information at their fingertips, but the power unleashed by the study of history does not come from the memorization of dates and random facts. Rather, my goal, every day, is to make history both relevant and challenging in the hope that they are better prepared for the twenty-first century. In order to accomplish this, primary source analysis and contextualization form the cornerstone of my teaching practice.
About the Show:
Welcome to Cutting Edge History. Cutting Edge History is designed to look into the key questions from the past about the people and moments that shaped our modern world. On this podcast, I interview scholars on the cutting edge of their respective fields to help facilitate answers to these critical questions. As you listen, you can imagine me performing a similar function as an Armchair Quarterback, without throwing any beer cans at the TV, by interviewing the men and women who make history come to life. I hope that you will join me, Michael Sandstrom, on this weekly podcast, as I keep you on the Cutting Edge of History.
As a podcaster, I still consider myself a teacher and learner; therefore, Cutting Edge History will undertake critical questions and themes in American and world history. The objective will be to provide contextual understanding regarding the important people, events, and ideas that shaped our modern world. The strength of this show will be my guests and the insights that they can provide based on their academic specialty.
**Disclaimer: I am not a historian, nor do I pretend to play one on the Internet. My analysis and interpretations of primary and secondary literature are my own. I will make every effort to be thorough, however, I am certain that many listeners may disagree with my interpretations. That is alright and I respect our difference of opinion.