Philip Bigler recently retired as the director of the James Madison Center for Liberty & Learning. He continues to work to help improve the quality of teaching while advancing academic excellence. Professor Bigler is a frequent speaker and presenter at conferences throughout the nation.
In 1998, Mr. Bigler was selected as the National Teacher of the Year during a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House hosted by then President, Bill Clinton. A highly acclaimed history teacher for over 30 years, Bigler is widely recognized for his innovative methods, use of technology and commitment to teaching. He is a sought after keynote speaker and has appeared on numerous television programs including the Late Show with David Letterman, Good Morning America, the History Channel, and Nightline. Bigler is the author of nine books including Teaching History in an Uncivilized World and Scandalous Son: The Elusive Search for Dolley Madison’s Son, John Payne Todd which are now available. Please see the Apple Ridge Publishers website for further details.
There are plenty of good teachers, many great teachers, but phenomenal teachers are rare and those students who are fortunate enough are granted the privilege to come across one in their lives. These teachers are the ones who reach into a student and instill in them a desire to learn. Mr. Bigler exemplifies the desire to learn, making him one of the phenomenal. School and class was not about memorizing the facts in order to pass a test or to elevate a school’s passing rate. It was about the excitement of learning something new and uncovering the past to help us move forward - learning how things worked, giving students the opportunity to form opinions and voice those opinions. We felt as Mr. Bigler had a vested interest in ensuring that each of us succeeded, he brought us in at a personal level by getting to know us, disappointing him was not an option because he believed in us. As I watch my children go through school now, I realize how much of an impact Mr. Bigler made on his students. With so many advances in technology and information at this new generation’s fingertips, they don’t have the chance to really feel and live their education. The right answer can always be found with a few clicks, they have gone back to the era of Scantron tests in which the answers are black and white. There is no room for an opinion and much less a defense. Mr. Bigler allowed his students that, he encouraged us to think for ourselves and to form opinions, but to always do our research to form those opinions. Unbeknownst to us all, he pushed us to learn and even made sure we enjoyed it! My hope for my children is that in their school years they will have the privilege of meeting a teacher who can instill even half of the joy in the classroom that Mr. Bigler has graciously shared with so many.
Emily Wu Rorrer