The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Peter Hacker-NE Campus

By Terry Webster/reporter

Peter Hacker’s philosophy of what makes a good teacher is simple but not necessarily easy.

Teachers should keep the focus on the students, said Hacker, an assistant professor of history and department chair. Above all things, they should remember it’s the student’s education that matters the most, he said.

It’s a stance that helped Hacker earn the NE Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching.

The art of teaching involves a delicate balance between maintaining standards and letting students know teachers want them to succeed, Hacker said.

“Sometimes, students feel their relationship with their instructor is antagonistic from the moment they walk into the room,” he said.

On the other hand, students must know that most teachers take great pains to be fair, but their role is not to simply give students good grades to make them happy, Hacker said.

“They have to earn it,” he said.

Hacker began at TCC as a South Campus adjunct instructor. Among his other teaching awards in both public and higher education is the 2004 Amon Carter Innovative Teacher Award from the Amon Carter Museum. 

Hacker’s love of history began as a child listening to stories from his great-grandparents who lived in the World War II era. But he admits history is an often-required but sometimes underappreciated topic for college students.

Understanding history and recognizing how it repeats and relates to current times requires critical thinking skills, he said. And that can be a challenge in an era when technology makes everything available with the press of a button.

The constant availability of technology — text messages and the Internet, for example — makes it difficult for some students to focus in class or while doing homework, Hacker said.

“It’s almost impossible to turn off,” he said.

The fact that the United States is a relatively young country can also make teaching history a challenge at times.

“Americans are not very history-minded,” he said. “We’re very forward-looking.”

To draw students in, Hacker relates that history is not just about dates and events. History can actually come to life through the words and stories of historical figures.

“It’s really a people subject,” he said.

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