Professional Learning

Celebrity Q&A: Brian Williams on Challenging the Truth

This just in, from the award-winning news anchor.

August 30, 2007

Brian Williams is not yourtypical deskbound newsanchor. As managing editorof NBC Nightly News,Williams frequently departsthe narcissistic cocoon ofMidtown Manhattan to getto the heart of the story.

For his efforts, he hasreceived four Edward R.Murrow Awards, five EmmyAwards, the duPont-Columbia University Award,and the industry's highesthonor, the George FosterPeabody Award. Most weregiven for his work in NewOrleans while coveringHurricane Katrina and itsaftermath. All were awardedto Williams in only hissecond year on the job.

What is your idea of a perfect teacher?

Intellectual, excitable, passionate, and flexible.

What was your most memorable school experience?

A high school teacher, Bob Kitson, helping turn my life around. Hegot me reading the classics.

What was the low point of your school career?

Right before meeting Bob Kitson.

Did you go to public or private school?

Public until Catholic high school.

Where did you fit in your schools' social hierarchies?

Until senior year, I was unrecognizable to most of the student body.

What was your favorite subject?


What is impossible to learn in school?

How to make your way in life.

If you could change one thing about education in America, what wouldit be?

The teaching of American and world history of the last century and thebasics -- we have become more concerned with the individual andless concerned with what they learn.

What should they teach thatthey don't teach now?

Comprehensive U.S. and world history.

What did you learn today?

I learned, on this sparkling, sunny,crisp day in New York, that the haunting memory of September 11will never leave us.

What did you teach?

I taught our newsroom a lesson in never being above our audience.A former firefighter buddy told me the stories that are important tohim, and I passed along that lesson.

What is in your dream lunch box?

A peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and ice-cold milk.

If you wrote a textbook, what would it be called?

What Is Past Is Prologue: The Lessons History Can Teach Us.

If the prom were tomorrow, whom would you take?

Since Jennifer Aniston appears to have reached a level of happinessin her life, I would take my wife and love of twenty-one years and notwaste all those dating years in between.

Historical Perspective

Brian Williams believes history should be taught more thoroughly in schools, and the Internet is a massive resource for helping teachers and their students delve more deeply into the subject. The Web is not to be trusted invariably, but it is far too rich a source for historical research not to be thoroughly explored. Excellent history Web sites abound; here are just a few:

American Memory
This Library of Congress site includes eighteen categories of American history, from advertising to women's history.

Camelot International: The Bazaar
This site, featuring timelines of the past 2,000 years on five continents, is useful for sorting out who did what to whom, and when.

For a virtual CliffsNotes of just about everyone who was ever anyone and everything that ever happened worth knowing about, try this site, which is just what it says it is.

PBS: History
This site tends to subscribe to the "great men and great women" approach to history, but it's an excellent place to find quite extensive biographies and timelines of the folks who have made (or unmade) us what we are today.

This Day in History
A vivid way to get a history class kick-started, this History Channel site offers audio and movie-like slide shows to indicate many of the significant events that happened on any given date.

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