Last night was my last class of the semester. Oh, wait, you may not know this but in my other life I teach American History at one of the local Universities. The classes are 7 weeks long and meet once a week for 4 hours. Yes, I said 4 hours! I also teach traditional classes but I think by far my favorite has to be the 7 week session. Generally, my students are Nursing or Physical Therapy majors who are taking the class during the short session because they use the longer sessions for labs and such.
At the beginning of the semester, I usually have the students go around and introduce themselves and tell everyone a little about themselves to break the ice. And one of the first things they’ll say is “No offense, but I really hate history.” I just have to laugh because I hear it all the time. I understand this because a lot of people think history is boring or that it’s just a bunch of dates and people that have no relationship to them so I try a different approach to teaching. I try to find a way to relate history to current events ~ sort of a “the personal is political approach.” If people can find a way to make something relevant to them, they remember because it means more.
I’m always sad to see the classes end… Funny part is that I’ll usually have a few students who tell me that they really enjoyed the class and that I made history interesting for them. Even if they don’t walk out of my class ready to be contestants on Jeopardy, I know that they are walking out with a better understanding of how our country began and the social, political and economic movements that keep propelling it forward.