With 1,000 students under his belt, Quentin Thomas could be considered a history expert. As the instructor for “Spirits of the Great American West,” he fulfills his passion for history by educating others in Canton, Kennesaw, Marietta and Roswell.
Quentin began teaching with OLLI in 2013. As current events change, especially in politics, he aims to keep his class content neutral and focuses instead on historical discussions.
This course views American history westward ranging from the Mississippi River to California, and Quentin plans to explore Indian cultures in more detail. There is an element of freedom in his class. Quentin allows his students to guide the discussion, even though he has a class outline.
“Sometimes when you see the class interested in a direction, you just run with it,” he said. “I’ll plan to [discuss] cattle drives, but they’d rather hear about missionaries.”
He said all of his classes have personalities. Here at OLLI, Quentin said it’s more academic and his students take a lot of notes. He’s also had people repeat the course in order to reengage in conversation about historical topics.
In-depth discussions are also a signature of the OLLI students. “They follow up a lot,” he said. “My bibliography has gotten to such a point where I don’t hand it out anymore. I email it to them — it’s 8 pages.”
In addition to books, Quentin also shares certain movie selections with the class that are related to his course content. “The Revenant,” “Dances with Wolves” and “Open Range” are a few on his list.
His teachings extend beyond the OLLI Suite. You can also find him serving as a docent at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, and he’s published a book of cowboy poetry titled, “Half Them Lies Is True: Simple Cowboy Poetry.”
So, what about history continues to invigorate him?
Quentin said, “I keep learning and discovering. I’ve been in a constant state of study since I started this class.”
He said historical truth can be more intriguing than a book of nonfiction. For example, Quentin speaks of the love President Andrew Jackson had for his wife, Rachel, who was buried in the dress she’d planned to wear at his inaugural ball.
“I read about truth,” Quentin said. “What’s more exciting than that?”