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mutiny on the bounty?

i have the unique feeling that the kids in my class that haven’t had me are reeling and wondering, can we get out of this class?

we are still reading the boring hisory text, which isn’t that boring, but still.

today we talked about columbus.

and i told them that he lied in his journal, that he didn’t land in the bahamas, like everybody says but in the lesser antilles.

and we talked about the antipodes and the men with no heads but faces in their chest and men with tails and columbus’ belief that he was sailing to asia to hand out with the samuri but finds a bunch of naked fishermen.

we talked about california being an island, about the bay of pearls that was named such because it was hoped that it would have pearls

about medieval maps vs. renaissance maps, sextants and quadrants and astrolabes and about language and empire

in the end, we talked about perception and reality and whole bunch of interesting stuff that wasn’t going to be on the test, because i’m not testing them over the history and few, at the end of class, picked up their syllabi and leafed through it with faces that said… how much more of this can we take?

 

Comments

i guess, if i’m asking a question it is this…

what’s the point of a history/culture class… to learn the facts boringly or to be intrigued by the apocalyptic visions of those who live out history?

as the teacher, should i simply expect them to learn the book and come to class and quiz them on what they read and reinforce the stories from book or try to weave what they read into a larger tapestry of events?

or am i just paranoid?

Is it a gen-ed?

not really, it’s one of the bridge classes from language to the spanish major.

it is, though, essential for all spanish majors and minors.

but, it’s not gen-ed

I don’t know. I’ve been feeling hugely nostalgic about college lately (and I lay all the blame on G.). I also sometimes think that my brain is atrophying since I left school, and that this is why I didn’t get farther with Arendt (though I’d like to think it’s just that I was spending so much time looking up phrases in Greek).

It’s obviously easier to grade if you’re just trying to teach them the stuff in the book, but I suspect it’s less satisfying for you and for the handful of students who care.

You said it’s only a few making the faces, right? Maybe it’s just people realizing this major isn’t quite what they thought it might be. Never any shortage of that in any university.

w/regards to the teaching history question…the rote facts approach has been unjustly deemphasized in the last several decades in my opinion. We all know now that history is so much more than a collection of dates, names, and battles. For pedagogical purposes though, I think you have to start with some sort of basic framework, and pretend it is clean cut and consistent. Later you can blow their minds and show them how flimsy the categorizations really are. I have the same philosophy about teaching language.

To sum up: I think some drudgery is always inevitable

I remember that look in the last class I taught. It bothered me for a while, then I realized that I actually wanted the class to be smaller, so I thought not a thing about it afterwards. They dropped, and I’m sure we were all happier for it.

4: Nostalgia is unacceptable!

i tend to agree with jh…until they are pretty intellectually sophisticated anyway (seniors, or juniors, with luck), most of them don’t think they’re learning anything unless they can spout “facts” or what’s in the book. and honestly, i’m not sure they can get intellectually sophisticated without having a good number of spoutable facts in their heads…otherwise, they’re just spouting someone else’s theories that they can’t really back up with their own observations.

I am too intellectually sophisticated!

Yep, I think of it as foundation building. Ideally, that rote foundation should have been laid in earlier education, but schools don’t really do that anymore, partly because it’s out of fashion.

I should add by way of disclaimer that my actual teaching experience might fill a thimble. Most of what I know comes from observing how I, and others around me, learn.

sorry, i’ve been out… for the last few days

If you’re really sorry, then your Awareness of Awareness perceptic had better be all haywiry.