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Making history with history

Local teacher helps neighbors continue education at home

Created date

July 31st, 2009

Jack Kenney has had an affinity for history all of his life. History is my life support, a lifetime interest that I now get to share with others, he says. At Ann s Choice, the full-service community where he lives in Bucks County, he leads the history club. The club meets monthly to learn about and discuss the full spectrum of human existence and cultural evolution. Kenney approaches history from a unique perspective one of learning about cultures and civilizations through different mediums. Yes, the group discusses wars and politics, but they also discover history through art, literature, and religion. Full spectrum of history Over the past three years, Kenney has taught 44 sessions ranging from the beginning whatever that is, he jokes to modern times. The course lasts approximately two hours and takes place on the second Wednesday of every month. Around 800 people have filtered through the classes since the club s inception, and 18 20 people attend each session. Kenney spends 80 hours a month in preparation: researching, writing, and typing between six and ten pages of notes that club members can take home with them. He also shows a brief DVD that relates to the topic at hand. He likes to offer a smattering of all types of history. I like to teach the intellectual side, not just wars and politics, but a full spectrum of history, he says. Getting down to passions Kenney wasn t able to spend the majority of his life sharing his passion with others. He was a property tax manager who dealt mostly with retail taxes and consulted on financial matters throughout the country. He even developed and taught classes at Bucks County Community College on real estate economics and finance. In 1985, he retired and expanded his teaching horizons. This fall, his lessons will focus on the eighteenth century. He ll cover multiple cultures from the rise of the Russian Empire to the French Revolution, as his true interest lies in tying diff erent histories together so people can get a fuller picture of what may have really happened. A 22-year-old female scholar will address the class about democracy in ancient Greece and how it relates to democracy in the United States. So why does Kenney s flame burn so brightly for our history? He believes that we owe so much to the past, and if we don t learn from our mistakes, we will keep repeating them.