Mood: eager, ardent, yet somewhat melancholy…
Weather: a heavy fog shrouds the rain-slicked trees…
History: the branch of knowledge that records and analyzes past occurrences, an attempt to both record and explain that which has transpired. Civics: the study of the relationship between citizens and their society and state.
For many of my students it seems, at least at the outset, that any serious inquiry into times past is a task of drudgery and tedium… and I cannot say that I much blame them.
As so very little has changed in the particular methodology of teaching this subject matter, I doubt this present generation of world-weary American youths are any more intellectually stimulated by rote memorization of dates and facts than was I.
[In fact… a fond sepia-tinged memory of surreptitiously reading everything from Alexis de Tocqueville to Howard Zinn while my teachers belabored haphazard and meager particulars of the American Revolution comes to mind.]
O, but I should not ramble on – for my Lunch break lasts only about a quarter of an hour and I am supposed to be organizing my notes on the October Revolution. Yet, I feel I must express (or, perhaps, vent) a vague nibbling impulse that has been simmering in the back of my conscience for a good while now…
…namely, how does one disseminate sufficient material on a given matter in order to endow the student with an adequate enough grasp from which the moral/ethical understanding of the events can be derived?
The modern “utilitarian” model gives the appearance of being firmly rooted in a healthy provision of data overload, with an overarching motif of vague subjective inference… which does little to create a depth of understanding or even an ability to fully comprehend what has occurred – let alone, grasp the silver thread of implication.
What is the role of the Teacher in this aspect? Mentor? Lecturer? Tutor? Cohort? Moreover, where is my place within the narrow topic-oriented siphons of Horace Mann & John Dewey`s pragmatism-addled descendents? Verily, `tis a blackboard jungle strewn with poison ivy.
How can I use my position to inspire my students to become lifelong learners? How can I help them to see the utter correlation of ideas, facts, events and concepts as well as the fundamental reality and truth that underlies it all?
…but as I stare out windows clouded with steam from the heat of the radiator, watching the golden leaves twirl and fall to earth, I dream of a better way to myself in silence.