Education Director Column
Summer - 2015
At our recently completed 76th Anniversary Convention, I had the privilege to work in two educational areas: 1. the Educational Exhibits and 2. The Civil War Forum. Being well married to the former CSNS exhibit chairman, Fran and I gave new exhibit chairman, Jack Huggins, any assistance he requested. Fran and I found this to be a fun-filled adventure as we greeted many of our old exhibitor friends. Many of these seasoned exhibitors have been faithfully attending our CSNS conventions for multiple years. Most have become good friends and great sources of interesting stories about exhibiting and the items they exhibit.
A stroll through the large CSNS exhibit area is an education in itself. Taking time to read each exhibit and view the valuable contents is numismatic education at its finest. The variety of exhibit topics never ceases to amaze. The research that goes into a quality exhibit is both evident and instructional. I know that I speak for many collectors and even some non-collectors who say in unison: I learned a lot viewing the exhibits.
Exhibitors are natural-born educators. A glance at the exhibit score sheet reveals that "numismatic information" is a very important component of all exhibits. Exhibitors must tell viewers what they are seeing and what the exhibit is all about. The Best in Show score sheet instructs the judges to look for evidence that the general public will understand what the exhibit is all about.
I was asked to judge this year in the Modern Foreign Coin classification, a duty I don't take lightly. I always come away from the experience with a greater appreciation of the large body of numismatic knowledge that judging requires. When Iconferred with my two fellow judges, it was gratifying to learn that we had independently chosen the same first-, second- and third-place winners. We discussed the finer points of each exhibit and noted the incredible amount of information the exhibitors used in their exhibits. I always learn something new when I judge exhibits, and that's how it should be.
In my role as education director, it has been a genuine pleasure to coordinate and direct the Civil War Forum for the past four years. We have averaged eight to nine presentations per year, with an average attendance of 25. Our speakers have come from all over the U.S. and brought a wealth of knowledge about the American Civil War. I introduced each speaker and sat through all the presentations. This was like a U.S. History 101 course, with a specialty area of the War Between the States.
Dennis Boggs, aka President Abraham Lincoln, never ceases to amaze his audiences with the amount of knowledge he possesses about our 16th president. He can recite most of Lincoln's famous speeches, letters and the most famous of all, the Gettysburg Address. Dennis has researched the life and times of Lincoln and can tell some of the best stories about him. He engages his audience in question-and-answer times that evoke and demonstrate the enormous body of knowledge that he has gleaned over years of study.
All the other speakers, without exception, shared specific stories about the Civil War whether it be personal stories of sacrifice and bravery or following the war on the home front. Our speakers have given us insights that one would expect from men and women who have studied the Civil War in depth. Anyone who attended even just one of our multiple Civil War presentations has a greater appreciation for the contributions of soldiers and civilians, North or South, in the tragic war.
There can be no doubt that our Central States Numismatic Society is promoting numismatic education, be it in the exhibit area or in our forum presentations. Since the Civil War came to an end 150 years ago in April, 1865, the forums have come to an end. At the 2016 convention we will again feature speakers on a yet-to-be determined topic/theme. Most often mentioned and discussed has been the topic of CHICAGO. There is an abundant supply of knowledge and speakers who can make Chicago come alive. If you like this topic, please let any CSNS board member or officer know of your support and, if you have ideas for specific speakers, please let us hear from you.