Raise statues to honor our teachers

For the 10th anniversary of the Winston Center’s founding, the very first Clough Colloquium speaker, American historian David McCullough, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his books Truman and John Adams, winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and holder of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Boston College, returned to the Heights to talk and sign copies of his newest book, The American Spirit. In the vein of this new book, a collection of his various talks and speeches, McCullough explored a variety of topics. He spoke about his experience as a writer, lovingly describing the decades-old typewriter that he still uses and how the idea for a biography about Harry Truman popped into his head without warning. He also touched on some of the historical subjects he has studied, reading an excerpt from a letter written by Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and First Lady and, in his words, “an extraordinary American,” and described the recently found diaries of an early Ohio settlement which may serve as the basis of his next book.

But McCullough mainly focused on the importance of education. In response to the topic of whether Confederate Civil War statues should be removed, a question he is often asked, he implored us to instead ask ourselves “Who should we be raising statues of?” His response: teachers. He read out a list of teachers and the famous pupils they had inspired to unlock their potential, commenting that teachers were, in his opinion, the people most unduly forgotten by history. McCullough also expressed that learning is a two-way street, asking the audience to not only reflect on which teachers had touched their lives but also their own attitude toward learning, exhorting his listeners to always be asking questions. “Curiosity,” he quipped, “is what separates us from the cabbages.”

Melanie Johnson '20, Winston Ambassador