Spotlight on Ohlone:
Kirshner to judge Obama letters

By Zunera Syed, Staff writer.

Thursday, February 5, 2009—Reprinted from Monitor.

Professor Alan Kirshner is commonly known for teaching political science and history at Ohlone College. This semester, he’ll also be taking on another job: judging for a contest called “Dear President Obama.”

In this contest children send President Obama a message about something that interests or concerns them. The contest was started by Umair Khan, the creator of It is an educational website for children ages 5 through 14. According to, “children will explore virtual lands, undertake quests, play games, maintain a home, nurture a pet, and interact with their friends.”

Since Khan knew Professor Kirshner from a chess club he runs at Weibel Elementary School, he asked Kirshner to volunteer as a judge. The contest ends on Feb. 8.

The winner’s message will be printed in the Huntington Press and other various newspapers. The winner will also receive a cash prize of $1,000. Professor Kirshner will be judging to see how much creativity there is and also how informed the contestant is. The contest will be judged by two other professors; one being from Harvard and the other is from Yale. The contest will be judged online. The judges will communicate through SecretBuilders and will be judged on Presidents Day weekend.

In addition to judging the competition, the sixth Edition of Kirshner’s textbook “In The Course Of Human Events” is now available. In his new textbook, a ninth chapter is also included. The ninth chapter gives a much more detailed analysis of the National and State Judiciary System. The textbook uses his essays as well as photographs. This way, he can teach using his personal ideas and experience.

The previous edition came out in fall of 2005 so he decided it was time to update the textbook. He has been using the same textbook for more than 15 years. He removed all the chapters that he did not write to significantly decrease the cost of the book for the students.

Students can now read the standard political science chapters online at a special website developed for the political science course by Pearson for free. The textbook consists of essays about the standard American Government subject matter with the touch of Kirshner’s teaching style. The book is being used this semester.

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