Two Things At Once

At the end of the day at UNCCWP SI, I’m wondering about…

A) Ways to use writing to help students connect their experiences to history
B) How to problematize/complicate student assumptions about motivations/beliefs of people in the past
C) How to do both things at once, at least within the space of a class or several class days

I see students (and adults, for that matter) often falling at one of two ends of a spectrum. At one end is the assumption that they think exactly like people in the past, and therefore, drawing conclusions that are erroneous. Or they fall on the opposite end of the spectrum, assuming that people of the past are so removed from them that they are unable to understand their motivations or feelings.

I feel like I do a decent job of encouraging A) in my Upper School class (in assignments like this), but I struggle with ways to invite personal connections to material with which I am less familiar, such as my World History class. B) can feel hard to judge, and it’s often only once I read students answers on a test that I realize they are making assumptions that aren’t historically warranted based on the evidence we have.

Any history is a narrative. I want to think about how to present those narratives and ways of accessing those narratives such that they don’t lend themselves easily to either a simplistic reading or a failure to engage the narrative because it feels so foreign.

3 thoughts on “Two Things At Once

  1. I’ve been thinking about what makes narrative interesting, or what in it people connect with. I think often it’s characters or situations that we feel we can relate to in some way–and these require details. for me, I wanted to know what people were thinking and feeling, what they ate for breakfast, what their life was like. Dates and battles and major history events meant very little to me… They didn’t feel like they connected to real people and real places…

  2. These thoughts are ever changing, unless you been where the actual people been, feel what they feel, then that can truly cause one to make a connection. That’s why I love primary sources, media, literature, and etc are able to show that authentic feel and students can relate and write about if they were in the person’s shoes.

  3. It’s interesting to be reading this post after your demonstration to the group. I think your demo does a great job of exploring the ways that students can connect personally to historical events. And when I say personally…I do not necessarily mean emotionally…one thing I like about your demo was that there was space to connect in a critical way…based on ideas or knowledge that we’ve “collected” from other experiences…the platforms you used gave us ways to circulate these ideas/knowledges…like the George Takei You Tube link I posted that related to Japanese internment. I want to figure out how to “do this” sort of thing in my classroom…move from merely collecting ideas and knowledge to connecting it (think circulate). I write a bit about the ideas from demos like yours have helped me broaden my definition of the ways in which ideas and knowledge circulate in and around classrooms in my final blogpost. Thanks for providing me space to think more about this!

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