By TENA L. COOK, CSC Marketing Coordinator
CHADRON – Chadron State College graduate student Arttie Parker of North Platte earned the opportunity to attend what his professor Dr. Tom Smith calls a prestigious seminar this summer.
Parker is a CSC alumnus, twice over. He earned a bachelor's degree in History in 2011 and another one in Social Science Education in 2012. He will graduate in May with a master’s degree.
As the sole teacher in the alternative program for North Platte High School, Parker teaches mainly juniors and seniors along with a few underclassmen. Since 2012, he has taught U.S. History, World History, Government, Algebra 1 and 2, English, Earth Science, Physical Science, Biology, Personal Finance, and Strength and Conditioning. He is also the school’s powerlifting coach.
Parker had used resource materials from the National World War II Museum in New Orleans for years in his units about propaganda, so he applied for the museum’s seminar about propaganda and was selected from a pool of several hundred.
Parker has a wall in his classroom covered in posters from across the world that he calls the Art Of War.
“Propaganda analysis can be used in many different curricular areas, from the obvious historical observations to the use of colors and perspective, the choice of words, to the various forms that propaganda took,” Parker said. “So when the opportunity arose for this [educator’s seminar], I jumped at the chance.”
He plans to incorporate a lot of his research material from the seminar into his graduate project with Smith.
“I'm excited about the project, but even more, I'm hopeful it will open some eyes and be a valuable tool in my school district, as well as others. I came away from the seminar more excited about my [CSC graduate] project. I'm confident I am headed in the right direction with the project because I think it has practical application for any school that wishes to pursue World War II and/or Holocaust studies with modern applications,” Parker said.
The online portion of the seminar was intense, much like his current CSC graduate courses, according to Parker.
In addition to the online component, Parker spent a week at the museum.
“It's truly an incredible place that can't be completely absorbed in a single day. We crawled all over the museum with any free time we had,” he said.
Parker worked on collaborative projects in small groups and heard daily presentations from museum staff including curators, educators, and media specialists. They were led on guided tours of exhibits and worked with materials not yet on display yet. He found it fascinating to discuss what other school districts teach and other states’ standards.
Parker’s work culminated with a project called an Ignite Talk that seminar organizers require participants to present, after returning home, to their co-workers, administrators, and regional educators.
“We each presented to the rest of the group to demonstrate what we planned to take away from the seminar and present to others as professional development,” he said. “It is hoped that by making people more aware of propaganda and media literacy, we can help students to learn from the past and to make informed decisions when dealing with media of all sorts, whether it be mainstream media or social media.”
Although he considered himself well-informed about WWII, he said he was exposed to propaganda materials he had never encountered before.
“For me, the information I was able to uncover about how the Holocaust was perpetuated, hidden, and then justified through propaganda was of great importance to my graduate cumulative project. It was staggering to learn how much Holocaust denial material is being spread through social media and how much our students, and our own children, are being exposed to this material and pro-Nazi material,” Parker said.