Wednesday, April 20, 2016

7 Questions with Ben Smalley, The Specialist on YouTube

Ben Smalley grew up in Athens Georgia, received his Bachelors in Social Science Education from UGA and his Masters in Social Studies Education from Georgia State.  He currently teaches Honors and AP US History and coaches Varsity girls soccer at Pebblebrook High School in Cobb County. Check out his new Youtube Channel, “The Specialist."

1. How and/or when did you get you hooked on history?
I got hooked on history when my 10th grade AP US History teacher explained that history was a fluid interpretation of the past rather than a static memorization of facts.

2. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?
I love to see how history connects to current events and absolutely love to travel to historical places.  It is so amazing to see and experience something you have read/taught about for years.

3. How is/How was history a part of your professional life/career?
I currently teach Honors and AP US History, I just started a youtube channel that is heavy on history, and I am working on using 360 degree camera technology to take students on virtual field trips using virtual reality headsets and smartphones.

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?
History can explain everything that is happening in the world we live in.  It is important that we understand history and try to build on our shared successes and failures in order to make the world a better place.  

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?
I love 1920s America!  There are so many amazing things happening at once and I think it marks the beginning of the modern era.  I was also recently on a Mongolian Empire kick after listening to the podcast Hardcore History.

6. What is The Specialist?
The Specialist is a list show with intelligence.  The channel has short 1-3 minute videos with lists that are geared toward engaging my students, but also have a "did you know?" dinner party vibe as well. For example, in 9 Things You Didn't Know About The Civil Rights Movement you will find out that Rosa Parks was inspired by a 15 year old girl who refused to give up her seat on a bus before she did.

7. What will viewers gain from The Specialist and what’s your vision for its future?
The random viewer will gain a quick burst of knowledge that blends entertainment and education, while the student/teacher will gain a great supplementary tool that will hopefully fuel their hunger for learning.  My goal is to continue to add new videos, increase viewership, and get valuable feedback from my audience.

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