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Teacher who writes about history, language, travel, politics, and education. Kichx̱áanx’ yéi x̱at yatee. (I live in Ketchikan, Alaska.) Twitter: @peterstanton

I think educators should take the time to consider and discuss a particular idea that floats around our schools, especially secondary schools:

It’s the idea that some teachers work best with high-achieving students, while some teachers are particularly suited to working with low-achieving students.

I believe there’s at least some merit to this premise: There are teachers who teach mostly honors or advanced classes, and make a career out of successfully guiding select students on paths to great college programs. Then there are teachers whose classes attract students who may struggle with school, and they revel in giving those students…


How can educators teach history in an honest, accurate manner while also being sensitive to their students? I believe those aims should complement each other perfectly.

It seems pretty common in our culture that honesty and accuracy are framed as values working in opposition to kindness and sensitivity. The truth often “hurts,” or it’s “harsh,” while being nice may require telling some white lies. I don’t believe that needs to be the case. In fact, I think a person who makes frequently inaccurate statements can cause much more hurt and offense than someone who consistently acts in an earnest and…


Are you interested in reading stories set in Alaska that feature chilling representations of mental illness and violence? If so, I highly recommend the works of David Vann.

David Vann’s novel “Caribou Island”

Usually, I would not count myself among the people interested in such stories. As a history educator and enthusiast, I will eagerly read books that discuss violent and terrible events from the past in an analytical manner. When it comes to fiction, however, I usually avoid stories about murder or other types of horror. …


It’s April 2021. Vaccination against COVID-19 is increasingly widespread in the world’s wealthiest countries, and many people have started traveling again, or they’re planning for it in the near future. Now, as of March 26th, Iceland is accepting travelers from any country as long as they can show proof of full vaccination, or of previous COVID infection.

I expect Iceland may be a very popular destination for Americans and others this summer. With that in mind, I’d like to share my own reflections on tourism in Iceland, and some suggestions if you’re considering visiting the country.

visitors walking to Goðafoss in northern Iceland, July 2015

First, let’s take a…


Dear Ketchikan voters:

I am pleased to see how many candidates are running in Ketchikan’s upcoming municipal elections on October 6th, and I am relieved there is healthy competition for every open seat on the Borough Assembly and City Council. Today I am writing to express my enthusiastic support for one City Council candidate in particular—Grant EchoHawk.

It shouldn’t be too surprising or controversial to say that many people in Ketchikan feel disconnected and even alienated from the decisions that our City Council makes. We need to elect councilmembers who can repair that disconnect as quickly and effectively as possible…


Depending on how you count it, there are anywhere from 191–206 independent countries in the world. There is an extremely select group of living human beings—perhaps only 50 to 100 — who claim to have visited every country in the world. Doubtless, these people must have many amazing stories to tell, and they all have websites and book deals to prove it. (I won’t provide links to any of them, but you can find them pretty easily.) I think it’s natural for those of us who love travel to feel envious of these exceptional country-visitors.

However, just as I discussed…


I’ve reached a point in my life when I can admit I don’t like reading most fiction. It still sounds weird to say “I don’t like reading fiction,” but I’m sure there are a lot of other people out there like me—readers who love discovering new knowledge, but who don’t usually like reading stories just for the sake of the story. (If you want to see the kind of books I usually aspire to read, check this out.)

However, I still do read some fiction. In the past two years, 14 out of the 40 books I read were fiction…


Ketchikan’s local elections are overly complicated and unfair. It’s too late to change anything before October, but after this year’s elections, our local governments should take action to fix how we elect our council, assembly, and school board members.

The problem is that our local government bodies are holding separate elections for seats with different term lengths. This procedure results in an uneven and anti-competitive playing field for candidates, as well as a reduction in choice for voters.

Consider the present state of the elections for Ketchikan City Council: As of August 10th, there are currently three candidates running for…


Pekka Hämäläinen’s newest book, “Lakota America”

In college I took a transformative class entitled “Native Americans Making North America.” It was an upper-level history course and the expected reading was heavy—often an entire book every week, plus other selections. One of those assigned books was Pekka Hämäläinen’s acclaimed debut work The Comanche Empire. Although I enjoyed the chapters I was able to read, I ended up having to skim through most of the book the day before the in-class discussion. I still have The Comanche Empire on my bookshelf, but I’ve never read it cover to cover.

When I perused the Ketchikan Public Library a few…


I want to share what might be an unpopular opinion:

I don’t like the Crash Course World History videos on YouTube.

I have no idea when I first watched a Crash Course video, but it was likely sometime soon after the series started in January 2012, which was during my junior year of earning a bachelor’s in history. Then, during my senior year of college and especially as I entered the teaching profession, I started getting exposed to the videos much more frequently, as just about anyone who loves history and uses the internet would be.

I never liked the…

Peter Stanton

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