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Year: 2009

Contemporary Political Rhetoric and Teaching History

Earlier this month I did a post on my Hist 100 blog that might be of some interest to readers here, “Contemporary Politics and History.” My audience was primarily freshmen in their first semester at university, most of them too young to have voted in the last election: I have said this in class, but it needs repeating here: Our contemporary American political discourse about socialism and nazism has absolutely nothing to do with those terms and phenomena in actual history. While we are not in class to talk about… Read more Contemporary Political Rhetoric and Teaching History

What Having a Socialist Nazi in the White House Means for the Classroom

I am probably not alone when I say that I have a hard time taking GOP “socialism” rhetoric seriously. The same goes for right-wing attempts to equate Obama with Hitler. Apparently, however, I need to keep this rhetoric in mind when planning my classes, for it has entered my classroom in an unexpected way. In a blue book essay about totalitarianism this summer, one student explained nazism in terms of “socialism” and “big government.” There was no political intent behind these statements. The student simply drew on the language of… Read more What Having a Socialist Nazi in the White House Means for the Classroom

Miracle Workers by Taylor Mali

I know my university history teaching and my work with adults learning to speak English is different than what Taylor Mali does with high school students, but I can still relate to his poetry about teaching. Maybe it’s because I often have teenagers in required courses. But maybe it’s because there’s something more fundamental to the craft, no matter who or what you are teaching. Here’s a piece he posted to his YouTube channel this year: This post originally appeared on my old history blog, Clio and Me, on this… Read more Miracle Workers by Taylor Mali

A Different Approach to History 100?

George Mason’s Hist 100 courses are supposed to cover Western Civilization in one semester. To manage this Sisyphean task, I switched from a chronological to a thematic approach. While this makes sense from an analytic point of view, covering themes seems to alienate some students, because the themes appear in the foreground, not the events and personalities. Moreover, the themes tend to bridge larger periods of time. With “Religion and Society,” for instance, I cover the Investiture Conflict, the Protestant and Catholic Reformations, the Wars of Religion, the Scientific Revolution,… Read more A Different Approach to History 100?