GS17: For 6.11.19

  • Women in the 50s: “Graphic Organizer”
  • Women in the 50s: “Lesson Plan”
  • Possible paper topics

Women in the 50s: “Graphic Organizer”

Complete the “Women in the 1950s Graphic Organizer” for all four documents, A-D, well as the “First Hypothesis” and “Final Claim” (pages 3-4)

  • Work strategically: don’t go too deep, do clearly distinguish “doing” and “feeling”

As we discussed, the issue for the “thinking like a historian” method is not to go deep (in the sense of German philosophical idealism and hermeneutics), but to work strategically (in the sense of Anglo-American analytical philosophy).

  • In your own time, you are free to read as you like, of course, but the course is about Anglo-American cultural studies, and by that we mean BOTH some topics AND “the way they think”
  • To understand this difference, you might write 3-5 sentences identifying how this was difficult for you, how this approach is or seems different and strange to you
  • We are not here to decide which approach is better, only to step out of our own shadow and into the shoes of the (Anglo-American) historians

Be brief about this, don’t go deep!

  • Many of my students, when they sit in a classroom and pick up a pen and put it to paper, immediately start thinking like they have to write a term paper (as they have been taught)
  • Think of these lessons as exercises in note-taking and maybe like “fixing a broken machine,” where you try to figure out how it works: how certain elements are supposed to go into the table in a certain way.

Maybe consider “standing on your head”, or “working backwards”, or “turning the problem inside-out”

  • Many of us are taught to start with some Big Idea and then arrange the pieces to fit; here, your task is to examine the pieces closely and arrange them in the manner of a comparison.
  • In scientific writing, we start with a question, a hypothesis (a Big Idea), and then we test it; but to get to these questions we often start from observation, working with data or evidence, and start asking: “why” “how does this fit together.
  • A proper research question has both practical and conceptual dimensions: you want to solve some practical problem, but to do that you have to figure out how it works — like fixing a car or repairing torn clothing, where in order to fix or mend you have first to figure out how it is supposed to fit, and to do that you have to build a mental model, sometimes like this: “what was this guy thinking when he designed this, what was this lady thinking when she set the bias like this?”
  • In our present lesson, we are given history as a problem: we have four different interpretations, and they don’t fit together very well until we come up with a theory to explain them: your job is to come up with that theory (though the assigned question, for middle school children, is to form an opinion (these are Americans, after all, and they are supposed to open up their big mouths and give an opinion on everything, like me!)
  • There is no correct, absolute answer in the sense of one perspective being better than the others, but you might consider how these four articles are from four different periods and perspectives, and that in comparison we have our answer: history as a conversation characterized by differences of interpretation
  • Rather than writing up “the answer,” for this exercise you do better “making interesting notes”, and a table with limited space is great for that: you don’t get to go bla-bla-bla on and on (diving deep), you have to identify elements in a short, succinct way

How different is this from how you organize your lessons (in whatever subject)?

My idea for class next time is address your question of relevance by asking how this method compares to those you have used or experienced, and to do that I will suggest that we walk through the lesson plan, pages 5-7, and then complete the “graphical organizer” again and in a slow-motion, self-conscious way and ask two questions

  1. How does their introduction lead us to see the documents and exercise differently?
  2. How is this different from what we presently do in our lessons?

That is, if you follow the instructions above, you will by then have read the four documents without any introduction and so been forced to work from the pieces to the whole — workling inductively — likely against your usual way of doing it: this is likely especially true for those who, after 15 minutes or so, had still not made notes and said things to me like: “first, I need to get some more background.”

But now, you will get that “background”, or more precisely, get what background the Stanford University people think you are supposed to get, and will be prepared for it: having read the texts and worked your way into your own opinion, you will be somewhat of an expert on this and so in a position to see how they have done it.

  • This exercise assumes that you are willing to slow down, be observant, and sensitive to your own thoughts and feelings: what did you do, and how did you feel about it?
  • It also assumes that something is to be learned when we do something twice, but with new information or experience, so we see ourselves, again in slow-motion, learning
  • For elementary school teachers I would think this something you do all the time — you offer your children an exercise, then you observe how they respond to it and as if you can see the wheels in their brains turning; as a “guide by the side,” you see when they are having success or difficulty and respond with praise and help, and as you go along you build model for how they learn and from then on likely organize your lessons differently — so all I am asking you to do here is to see yourself as your object of study, to learn and observe how you learn and to see the lesson here as both parts (also known as “Bildung”)

Possible paper topics

For those of you who might like to choose me as your examiner, I would suggest the following topic, and where you work in small groups or pairs so we are all on the same page: “How “thinking like a historian” and The Standards for Grades K-4 have helped me to see my lessons differently.”

  • If you are working in pairs or small groups, then you will have a mutual interest in discussing your writing with each other all along the way: if you consult my Team Work page, you will find plenty of references supporting this approach
  • As you each are supposed to get individual grades, I would recommend that you offer a chronicle or journal where you report on these conversations, what you studied and how and what you learned and felt about it, and where the key rhetorical device is the use of Report Structures, and in this way your personal voice will make clear what you’ve done and how you’ve worked with others