“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
Well, we’re off now.
Off to an encouraging start, that is. Our classes have moved passed Phase One, into the more rigorous and content-heavy Phase Two. Now that our focus has shifted to Research and Development, several students have noticed that we are not learning in the style of a traditional history class where the teacher stands in front of the room as a gatekeeper of knowledge. This has prompted several students to ask me some form of the question:
“Do we have to remember and use all of this information?”
To which my reply has been a gleeful, “Yes!” Comforting, innit?
But relax, we are only starting Phase Two. You still have 4 weeks until your final assessments. Weeks that will be taken up by:
- A long lecture from me on both wars–cementing your knowledge of the data and the ideas.
- Another critical film viewing.
- A debate on the resolution of World War Two.
- A cooperative review session.
- A mastery quest sequence that will ensure you have the requisite knowledge to write your final exam.
- Three (3!) practice essays that will not hurt your grade and that will receive full feedback from me on your way to your final paper. (First one due next week!)
In short: you just started, and you’re doing better than fine.
These exchanges also reminded me that I forgot to mention in our introductory week the best reason to study history: it’s hard. As in, really difficult. You will be required to remember a vast amount of detail, synthesize it into coherent themes and use it to judge history and history’s inventors. The skills you will develop in history are those daily practiced by the best lawyers, politicians, diplomats, activists and correspondents. Being proficient in history demarcates the difference between the hacks who create Disney Princess quizzes for Buzzfeed and the investigative journalists who interview world leaders for the BBC.
Learn to enjoy the pain now–because it won’t go away for at least two years. And be warned: the study of history is a marathon: always challenging, often painful, seemingly endless & something that non-runners cannot fathom.
But would you rather be on the sideline handing out Gatorade?