Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:15 pm





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 30 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.  Go to page Previous  1, 2
Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making 
Author Message
Years of membership
Creative Writing Student

Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 34
Location: California
Thanks: 5
Thanked: 30 times in 17 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
Harry Marks wrote:
capricorn152244 wrote:
3. History textbooks are terrible.
Discussion Questions for the Introduction:
1. Do you agree with any of Loewen's claims in the introduction? Did you have experiences in high school (or college) that run counter to his claims?

No, not really. I was trying to think (in part because it is possible I will be a history teacher next year) how to do better. I think a grand narrative about democracy and rights would open lots of interesting discussions. Why people in the minority need to be protected from the majority, and what that might imply for protecting the rich from redistribution of income as well as for protecting races and religions from bigotry.

I think there is too little understanding of economic forces, but they were raised for us in connection with the Civil War and why the North won.

Loewen's big point (IMO) about repressing feelings of those whose groups have been victimized was spot on. This business of avoiding discussion of awkward facts is an ancestor of our post-truth approach to politics today.


Yes, I have to agree, my understanding of economic forces from high school, and even college history classes was woefully lacking owing to absence of information. Now I feel like I'm playing catchup going through learning economics on my own and seeing the very large, very powerful lines economics draws through history. I really, really wish someone had told me all of this when I was in high school; it makes understanding history and its succession of events quite a bit easier for me.

I agree too with the repression of victimised groups' feelings, and moreover how our current state of post-truth politics and even culture can be traced to failing to recognise or care about the people around us.

Currently I struggle with how we can get back to a place where the truth actually matters, although the past few years in the US have been so bad I begin to question if it ever was that way or if that was just another delusion of mine about the kind of country the US is. To my mind, people simply caring about the truth rather than what feeds their confirmation bias would be a good start, but I don't know if that's just wishful thinking on my part.

Do any of you see a good way to working toward a post-post-truth society (if you will forgive the awkwardness of such a phrase)?



Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:06 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Book King


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1334
Thanks: 1389
Thanked: 658 times in 537 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
DWill wrote:
I tend to think that little emphasis should be placed on "grand sweeps," whether from conservative or liberal sides. Expose students to historical materials; de-stress interpretation at this stage.
DWill, you ignorant slut. Interpretation is "meaning" and "relevance." However, I think a strong case could be made for letting students construct opposing interpretations. "Wilson was enlightened and ahead of his time on collective security, even if he was socially reactionary." vs. "Wilson was arrogant and obsessed with his own righteousness rather than working with the forces acting in history," or some such contrast. Neither should be endorsed by the teacher, and that way they begin to learn that there are many ways to interpret a set of facts.

DWill wrote:
I also have enjoyed the Big History approaches of Jared Diamond and Noah Yuval Harari.
Ha! See, interpretation is wonderful. Actually, I am thinking I also enjoy finding flaws in those "big history" sweeping narratives. Though often that amounts to finding the exceptions that prove (i.e. "probe") the rule.
DWill wrote:
The gain, if any, would have to relate to national heritage. The textbooks aim to give students a sense of our heritage, and there seems to be little sense if the heritage is not presented as positive.
Yes, I suppose, some positive heritage is a valuable resource, for each of us as well as for the mutual commitments that hold us together. I appreciate the Howard Zinn-ish critiques of the heritage narratives, but I don't think the critique is very valuable if you don't understand the basis for the claims of the patriotic view.

DWill wrote:
I'd like to see textbooks draw no general conclusions about any figure, not attempting to reconcile contradictions, because usually they can't be reconciled.
I see. This is perhaps the basis of your view that I objected to above. I agree with you up to a point. Because there are many things going on at once, no single fact or incident represents confirmation or disconfirmation of a general tendency.

For us economists, the test of a good theory is ability to predict. If one predicts significantly better than others, or even than a null hypothesis, then you give it a lot of respect. But no prediction is anywhere near certain, at least in economics.

DWill wrote:
I can see that it would be rewarding for students to explore the forces and pressures that existed to make Wilson think a suspension of basic constitutional rights was needed. Emphasis being as much on these forces as on Wilson himself as leaning toward tyranny.
Yes, I think this is exactly right. Ability to understand the forces at work, and to put oneself into the mindset of the various players, is a vital skill for critical thinking, about history but also about human interaction going forward.



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
DWill
Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:34 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Book King


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1334
Thanks: 1389
Thanked: 658 times in 537 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
capricorn152244 wrote:
Yes, I have to agree, my understanding of economic forces from high school, and even college history classes was woefully lacking owing to absence of information. Now I feel like I'm playing catchup going through learning economics on my own and seeing the very large, very powerful lines economics draws through history. I really, really wish someone had told me all of this when I was in high school; it makes understanding history and its succession of events quite a bit easier for me.
Yes, one good example is the Progressive movement in the farm states in the late 19th century. The role of an inelastic currency, and what deflation does to debt, the enormous sloughing of workers to go to cities, yet at the same time the general improvement in the lot of farmers, all play into understanding William Jennings Bryan and, for that matter, the Roosevelt-Taft-Rockefeller saga.

To understand why the explosive growth of railroads in the North mattered so much to the Civil War, it isn't enough to know how much quicker the troops could be moved. Students would have much more perspective if they knew that incomes of Iowa farmers multiplied by four to ten times in the 1840s when they could shift from raising grain, which could last the slow trip to Eastern markets, to raising cattle, which needed quick shipment but sold for much more money. Quadrupling income is a dramatic change.

capricorn152244 wrote:
Currently I struggle with how we can get back to a place where the truth actually matters, although the past few years in the US have been so bad I begin to question if it ever was that way or if that was just another delusion of mine about the kind of country the US is. To my mind, people simply caring about the truth rather than what feeds their confirmation bias would be a good start, but I don't know if that's just wishful thinking on my part.

Do any of you see a good way to working toward a post-post-truth society (if you will forgive the awkwardness of such a phrase)?
I think about it a lot, but I fear I don't arrive at much in the way of answers. It helped me to recently read Tara Westover's memoir of growing up in survivalist Idaho, "Educated." The forces opposing realism and honesty are heavily intertwined with gender roles and the poor, pitiful male ego.

I might even say the solution (if one exists) is likely to follow from men learning to accept lower status. "Promise me son, not to do the things I done. Walk away from trouble when you can. It don't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek. You don't have to fight to be a man."



Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:51 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Book Discussion Leader
BookTalk.org Moderator
Silver Contributor

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 2039
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Thanks: 74
Thanked: 768 times in 594 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
Quote:
With hindsight we know that Wilson’s interventions in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua set the stage for the dictators Batista, Trujillo, the Duvaliers, and the Somozas, whose legacies still reverberate.


Wow, that is a lot for our hero to live down! :chatsmilies_com_92: Let's forget that lesson so we can repeat it yet again as soon as possible!

As to Wilson's racism, I expect it comes much more from the culture rather than him setting an example. The KKK made a strong resurgence right around that time including a huge march in Washington DC. Large crowds lined the streets, not to taunt and shout them down, but to watch and cheer! Talk to the average citizen at the time and I expect they'd sound similar to modern neo-nazis.



The following user would like to thank LanDroid for this post:
Harry Marks
Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:13 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6256
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1804
Thanked: 1971 times in 1495 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
Harry Marks wrote:
DWill, you ignorant slut. Interpretation is "meaning" and "relevance." However, I think a strong case could be made for letting students construct opposing interpretations. "Wilson was enlightened and ahead of his time on collective security, even if he was socially reactionary." vs. "Wilson was arrogant and obsessed with his own righteousness rather than working with the forces acting in history," or some such contrast. Neither should be endorsed by the teacher, and that way they begin to learn that there are many ways to interpret a set of facts.

Well pardon my sluttishness, Chevy Chase! You're the one who might be wading into history teaching, not me, and I think that's a good thing. I might go nuts with internal debating before I could ever broker this subject with 25 adolescents. Needing to take into account the differences between freshmen and seniors, intellectually, plus the variations of learning styles, literacy, and analytic ability within a grade--I wish you luck and success if you do it. History seems the most difficult of subjects to me. I can understand why teachers want to make it rather cut-and-dried, just the facts, ma'am. I'm not set against that approach entirely, either. How does anyone get into her head the basic outline of what happened, so that she doesn't end up completely clueless telling Jay Leno that Churchill was a great Civil War general?
Harry Marks wrote:
DWill wrote:
I also have enjoyed the Big History approaches of Jared Diamond and Noah Yuval Harari.
Ha! See, interpretation is wonderful. Actually, I am thinking I also enjoy finding flaws in those "big history" sweeping narratives. Though often that amounts to finding the exceptions that prove (i.e. "probe") the rule.

Now I have to wriggle out of an inconsistency (gulp). Big History is the biggest sweeper of all. With my fuzzy use of the word 'interpretation' I think I had in mind moral interpretation, which BH seems to avoid pretty well since it hardly mentions individuals at all and floats above moral judgment.
Harry Marks wrote:
DWill wrote:
The gain, if any, would have to relate to national heritage. The textbooks aim to give students a sense of our heritage, and there seems to be little sense if the heritage is not presented as positive.
Yes, I suppose, some positive heritage is a valuable resource, for each of us as well as for the mutual commitments that hold us together. I appreciate the Howard Zinn-ish critiques of the heritage narratives, but I don't think the critique is very valuable if you don't understand the basis for the claims of the patriotic view.

Another way of looking at the heritage question would be to, for example, speak of our treatment of native peoples as much a part of our heritage as our great Declaration. That would hurt, but maybe it should. What troubled me most about Zinn was the lack of context, the implication that America's flaws were unusual aberrations in societies and showed America as being worse by comparison. History should be taught comparatively. There, I've got something to stand on (for now).
Harry Marks wrote:
DWill wrote:
I'd like to see textbooks draw no general conclusions about any figure, not attempting to reconcile contradictions, because usually they can't be reconciled.
I see. This is perhaps the basis of your view that I objected to above. I agree with you up to a point. Because there are many things going on at once, no single fact or incident represents confirmation or disconfirmation of a general tendency.

How about trying on this as a distinction to guide teaching: is history class to be about historiography or history? I'm thinking that in a basic sense historiography increases with the age and intellectual ability of the students. Earlier on it is mostly about what we think we know of the facts.
Harry Marks wrote:
DWill wrote:
I can see that it would be rewarding for students to explore the forces and pressures that existed to make Wilson think a suspension of basic constitutional rights was needed. Emphasis being as much on these forces as on Wilson himself as leaning toward tyranny.
Yes, I think this is exactly right. Ability to understand the forces at work, and to put oneself into the mindset of the various players, is a vital skill for critical thinking, about history but also about human interaction going forward.

Perhaps related to this point, history is going to make students have strong feelings of sympathy or antipathy and of side-taking. Those are signs of engagement, at least. How does a teacher avoid stifling these feelings while encouraging students to go deeper, where they might find reasons to acknowledge feelings others have about the matter? I was thinking about the Southern argument that the CW was about state rights, not slavery. I'm pretty sure that slavery was the key point of conflict, but was state rights just something the South cooked up for cover? I don't think that is true, either. All of us need to be willing to take an empathetic look at the other side.

Edit: In the first line of the post, I should have said, of course., "Dan Aykroyd." So does historical error creep in.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks
Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:41 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Book Discussion Leader
BookTalk.org Moderator
Silver Contributor

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 2039
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Thanks: 74
Thanked: 768 times in 594 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
DWill wrote:
I was thinking about the Southern argument that the CW was about state rights, not slavery. I'm pretty sure that slavery was the key point of conflict, but was state rights just something the South cooked up for cover? I don't think that is true, either. All of us need to be willing to take an empathetic look at the other side.

  • What were the state rights that Southerners were defending against Northern aggression? The right to own slaves.
  • Southerners also claimed they were defending their economy against Northern aggression. What parts of their economy needed to be defended militarily? The immense capital value of slave ownership and the profits that produced.
  • Southerners further claimed (and some still do) that they were just defending their "heritage." Although the Southern heritage certainly is significant, what part of it required the incalculable loss in blood and treasure to defend? (Insert your answer here.)
  • Do you see a pattern behind these euphemisms "cooked up for cover?"
  • We must understand history, but we do not necessarily have to consider all sides of every situation with empathy.

If you have doubts whether the Civil War was about slavery, here's a 5 minute video explainer. It's a presentation by Col. Ty Seidule, head of the department of history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. (I'm sure you'll agree from that position, as an authority on US military history, he should know what he's talking about.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcy7qV-BGF4



The following user would like to thank LanDroid for this post:
Harry Marks
Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:02 am
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6256
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1804
Thanked: 1971 times in 1495 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

 Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
LanDroid wrote:
DWill wrote:
I was thinking about the Southern argument that the CW was about state rights, not slavery. I'm pretty sure that slavery was the key point of conflict, but was state rights just something the South cooked up for cover? I don't think that is true, either. All of us need to be willing to take an empathetic look at the other side.

  • What were the state rights that Southerners were defending against Northern aggression? The right to own slaves.
  • Southerners also claimed they were defending their economy against Northern aggression. What parts of their economy needed to be defended militarily? The immense capital value of slave ownership and the profits that produced.
  • Southerners further claimed (and some still do) that they were just defending their "heritage." Although the Southern heritage certainly is significant, what part of it required the incalculable loss in blood and treasure to defend? (Insert your answer here.)
  • Do you see a pattern behind these euphemisms "cooked up for cover?"
  • We must understand history, but we do not necessarily have to consider all sides of every situation with empathy.

If you have doubts whether the Civil War was about slavery, here's a 5 minute video explainer. It's a presentation by Col. Ty Seidule, head of the department of history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. (I'm sure you'll agree from that position, as an authority on US military history, he should know what he's talking about.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?vCW =pcy7qV-BGF4

What I have doubts about is that you can say it was this way or that way, exclusively, for the South, meaning for everyone in the South; and that there was no history about state rights previous to its discussion immediately before the war. Of course state rights had a history, going back at least as far as the conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton, Federalist and Republican. State rights were not invoked only regarding the issue of slavery. Aren't we supposed to be studying history for some of the nuances, rather than insisting only on summary judgments? In any event, for me if we tease out the nuance history is a lot more interesting.

I have no doubt that the South seceded finally because of the threat to its peculiar institution. It was by far the most significant state rights issue for the wealthy political class of the south.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks
Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:30 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Book Aficionado

BookTalk.org Moderator
Silver Contributor 2

Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 1761
Thanks: 154
Thanked: 729 times in 547 posts
Gender: Male

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
I haven't gotten to the Civil War chapter of the book, and I agree that slavery was the key issue. But couldn't you also point to tariffs that were protecting industries of the North, when the South relied on raw material production and so they were bearing the cost of the tariffs? And obviously protecting slavery was part of protecting the Southern economy.



Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:35 am
Profile Email
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6256
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1804
Thanked: 1971 times in 1495 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
Of course, to shoot for balance you also have to consider the complicity of the North in slavery and the racism of the North.



Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:32 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Book Discussion Leader
BookTalk.org Moderator
Silver Contributor

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 2039
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Thanks: 74
Thanked: 768 times in 594 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
DWill wrote:
What I have doubts about is that you can say it was this way or that way, exclusively, for the South, meaning for everyone in the South; and that there was no history about state rights previous to its discussion immediately before the war. Of course state rights had a history, going back at least as far as the conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton, Federalist and Republican. State rights were not invoked only regarding the issue of slavery. Aren't we supposed to be studying history for some of the nuances, rather than insisting only on summary judgments? In any event, for me if we tease out the nuance history is a lot more interesting.

I don't know where you got that, I didn't say anything like it. Of course states rights controversies go back to the beginning. As I recall the Constitution strengthened the federal government because the states were so strong under the articles of confederation that not much got done. Sounds like we are actually in agreement on states rights...



The following user would like to thank LanDroid for this post:
Harry Marks
Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:41 pm
Profile
Years of membership
Creative Writing Student

Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 34
Location: California
Thanks: 5
Thanked: 30 times in 17 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
So, then, to redirect: did the Civil War change the balance of federalism vs republicanism in the US? In what direction did it change, and was this change good for the health of the state? At what point is the Federal Government overreaching? And what point should a state not be bullied by the union?

For example, California has decided to adhere to the standards put forth by the Paris Accords, and the EPA has begun to clamour to make it illegal for the state to do so. How does this situation fit into your assessment of how the federalism vs republicanism relationship is, and then again how you imagine it should be?



Sat Feb 16, 2019 4:00 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Book King


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1334
Thanks: 1389
Thanked: 658 times in 537 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
capricorn152244 wrote:
So, then, to redirect: did the Civil War change the balance of federalism vs republicanism in the US? In what direction did it change, and was this change good for the health of the state? At what point is the Federal Government overreaching? And what point should a state not be bullied by the union?

Lincoln successfully sold the resistance to "The Slave Power" as a matter of holding a democratic nation together. Like the Mayflower Compact it insisted that the consent of the governed did not extend to withdrawing if they did not like the decisions of the majority.

Common defense requires acceptance of unity at a fundamental level. Lincoln foresaw that if the nation did not commit to common governance then they were not committed to common defense. The flip side of his penetrating vision is that if the nation so oppresses some individuals that they feel the need to resist it, a system of rule of law must include protection of each from that oppression. These principles come in direct conflict when one part of the society bases its way of life on depriving others of their freedom, aka slavery, and those who are thus oppressing others feel the need to keep a larger nation from depriving them of the ability to do so.

The Gettysburg Address ties together these two strands of his thinking. Can a nation dedicated to each being created equal long endure on the earth? Only if it experiences a rebirth of freedom, freedom which is for all. Union by consent requires equal rights.

capricorn152244 wrote:
For example, California has decided to adhere to the standards put forth by the Paris Accords, and the EPA has begun to clamour to make it illegal for the state to do so. How does this situation fit into your assessment of how the federalism vs republicanism relationship is, and then again how you imagine it should be?
I don't think it is too bold to require that the reasoning be examined in each case. If California is acting on behalf of all states, then the federal government has no business telling it that it may not do so. And if the federal government is refusing to examine the policy decisions behind each position, but merely exercising naked power, then the power is not legitimate.

I think the state/federal tension is a lot like the executive/legislative/judicial tension. Only a scoundrel focuses on what the powers have been set out to be without considering the reasons behind them and the reasons for checks and balances. The facts of a particular case ought to be fit into a framework with those reasons understood.



Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:43 am
Profile Email
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6256
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1804
Thanked: 1971 times in 1495 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
LanDroid wrote:
DWill wrote:
What I have doubts about is that you can say it was this way or that way, exclusively, for the South, meaning for everyone in the South; and that there was no history about state rights previous to its discussion immediately before the war. Of course state rights had a history, going back at least as far as the conflict between Jefferson and Hamilton, Federalist and Republican. State rights were not invoked only regarding the issue of slavery. Aren't we supposed to be studying history for some of the nuances, rather than insisting only on summary judgments? In any event, for me if we tease out the nuance history is a lot more interesting.

I don't know where you got that, I didn't say anything like it. Of course states rights controversies go back to the beginning. As I recall the Constitution strengthened the federal government because the states were so strong under the articles of confederation that not much got done. Sounds like we are actually in agreement on states rights...


All right, sorry if I went off half-cocked.



Last edited by DWill on Wed Feb 20, 2019 10:07 am, edited 1 time in total.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks
Wed Feb 20, 2019 10:06 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Book King


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1334
Thanks: 1389
Thanked: 658 times in 537 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
DWill wrote:
You're the one who might be wading into history teaching, not me, and I think that's a good thing. I might go nuts with internal debating before I could ever broker this subject with 25 adolescents. Needing to take into account the differences between freshmen and seniors, intellectually, plus the variations of learning styles, literacy, and analytic ability within a grade--I wish you luck and success if you do it. History seems the most difficult of subjects to me. I can understand why teachers want to make it rather cut-and-dried, just the facts, ma'am. I'm not set against that approach entirely, either. How does anyone get into her head the basic outline of what happened, so that she doesn't end up completely clueless telling Jay Leno that Churchill was a great Civil War general?
I admit to a certain trepidation about the human and social side of bringing kids along. But the facts vs. interpretation dilemmas are manageable, said the economics teacher. The idea is to get kids curious about facts based on the larger themes, so that they have their own desire to learn the facts and one is not just using leverage to cram facts in. There should be some balance between embarrassment if they declare that Churchill was a great Civil War general, on one hand, and willingness to learn new facts to fill in the questions they have generated.

The hierarchy of learning objectives (aka Bloom's taxonomy) helps structure how to think about these things. Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation. Each relies to some extent on the ones below it, and engagement with the higher level activities helps to motivate acquisition at the lower levels. For example, analysis is more fun if there is evaluation at stake. Application of knowledge is interesting in the context of the demands of synthesis, e.g. arrange a puppet show to explain how the world appeared to Joan of Arc.
DWill wrote:
With my fuzzy use of the word 'interpretation' I think I had in mind moral interpretation, which BH seems to avoid pretty well since it hardly mentions individuals at all and floats above moral judgment.
Hmm. Interesting. Though Jared Diamond specializes in using cases, whether Cortez or Easter Island, to illustrate his Big History themes. I like to mix in a little moral judgment because students stand in many different relations to that, and the moral implications of Easter Island destroying its civilization by choosing conflict over cooperation are fascinating. Even though we don't know the names of Easter Islanders at the time of the demise, we can fill in character types and understand what roles they might have played in the drama.
DWill wrote:
What troubled me most about Zinn was the lack of context, the implication that America's flaws were unusual aberrations in societies and showed America as being worse by comparison. History should be taught comparatively. There, I've got something to stand on (for now).
I agree with you about that flaw. The critical approach tends to believe it is upholding an absolute moral standard, independent of the times or the issues at stake. In doing so, of course, it falls into the trap of claiming moral omniscience, since it pretends to know how the principles involved will play out over the time to come. Will equality turn out to be a pipe dream? Will socialism lead to totalitarian oppression? How can anyone think they know the answers to such questions.

A narrative claiming that Americans were uniquely virtuous in choosing self-government and rejecting domination by nobles is fairly naive, but students should have some idea that what was done in the provinces so far from the British Parliamentary debate was incredibly significant in historical perspective.
DWill wrote:
How about trying on this as a distinction to guide teaching: is history class to be about historiography or history? I'm thinking that in a basic sense historiography increases with the age and intellectual ability of the students. Earlier on it is mostly about what we think we know of the facts.
I think that's right. Children need a basic "lay of the land" feel for what they learn about, based on a rough factual sketch and a few strands of interpretation. I still remember in third grade the enrichment teacher teaching us about Napoleon using the 1812 overture. When she asked what we knew about Napoleon I volunteered that he was sort of like Hitler, and she cautioned us that Napoleon remains a hero to many French people. That's a kind of digestible framework that doesn't get into the horrors of the Holocaust but does give a sense that military defeat and conquest are not the final word, one way or another, about virtue.



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
DWill
Wed Feb 20, 2019 10:55 am
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Book King


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1334
Thanks: 1389
Thanked: 658 times in 537 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Ch. 1 - Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
Having finally finished the first chapter, I want to pause to appreciate it. For one thing, I am impressed at how little of this I knew, and inclined to agree with the author that slanted presentation of history is responsible. Not just to cheer for Wilson the internationalist and keep Hellen Keller clean of socialism, but also to create "heros" who never seem to actually look at another side of things but simply take on the bad guys (or their personal challenges) and show their pluck.

I fear he may have exaggerated some aspects in order to make the case that individuals matter in the contingent path of history. Who doesn't think that Franklin Roosevelt or Earl Warren or Joe McCarthy or J. Edgar Hoover influenced the path of history? Yet Wilson hardly created American racism and "Birth of a Nation" would most likely have done fine without his support.

I would have liked to hear more about the interventions in the Western Hemisphere - the Mexican Revolution was hardly neutral - but he certainly succeeded in making the case that textbooks brushed out the interesting side of the process. It also piqued my curiosity about the role of parties. We tend to think of pro-authoritarian intervention as an Eisenhower-era Republican program motivated in part by big business investments in Latin America. But Wilson was a Democrat. True that he was an alternative to William Jennings Bryan, the leader of the Democrats before Wilson, and that he tended to side with business with the exception of trust-busting. Dunno, really, what was up there.



Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:33 pm
Profile Email
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 30 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.  Go to page Previous  1, 2



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
How To Promote Your Book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank