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.