of Dr. Steven L. Berg

Participating in Real Discussions

Today, my early modern world students participated in a real discussion that had an impact outside of the classroom.

Yesterday, Dr. Alesea McLeod posted “Moving and Maybe Hoarding History” at HASTAC.  Today, my students read the essay and then discussed Dr. McLeod’s thesis before turning their attention to a series of questions she asked at the end.  The students then posted a response.  It was a thoughtful, well written response.

Being able to work within the context of a real discussion is very exciting and makes history come alive in ways that we cannot accomplish in any theoretical assignment.  Because the situation was real, critical thinking was improved.

Today, we ran into a technology problem in the classroom and I ended up dismissing my class early.  Later, the Dean asked if I gave media a chance to come over and fix the problem before I dismissed the class.  It was a good question and deserved to be asked.

Unfortunately, I was unable to salvage the lesson even if would have had to wait only 10 minutes for media.  Generally, I do not have a class so tightly structured, but I did today.  I was able to assure the Dean that I did not dismiss my class to make a point.

Later in the day, I was thinking about how we can take actions to make points that are not in our best interests.  For example, if I had dismissed my class in order to make a point, what could I actually gain.  The technology was going to be fixed either way.  There was no need for me to do something dramatic.  Yet we can be deluded to go for the dramatic action due to our need to prove something.

Last week, a student at another college got upset with me.  To make her point, she decided not to attend the awards banquet at the LAND Conference.  Her action was dramatic, but she only hurt herself.  That was too bad.


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