Sunday, November 23, 2014

Investigative Historical Learning

I would venture to say that all of my past historical learning has focused primarily memorizing information about political powers, imperialism, war, and the state. Important dates I have been asked to remember include a year like 1914 when World War II started, not 1990 when the first website was invented. Which of these dates has more impact on my life today? Well let me give you a hint: I'm using the internet to publish this blog post. 

Throughout the History & Culture module that I went through in my Praxis curriculum, all of my assumptions about history were challenged. Was the west really all that wild? Were the dark ages actually dark? Was slavery in America profitable? Is art only legitimate if it is created for non-commercial purposes? Did the industrial revolution enslave Americans and their families? 

This Praxis module turned everything on its head. Every assumption, every story, every "fact". Okay, maybe not everything in history. But it challenged enough of what I have been taught to make me wonder... 

Through the Praxis module, I learned not to take things at face value. Because the facts presented to me through this module were so different from the facts I have been presented with in history classes before, it made me question and investigate my knowledge. 

Students like to complain about what a waste of time it is to study history. In many regards, I must agree. If all their class consists of is compiling information about imperialism, political power, and failed economies, it can be downright depressing to study and kind of a waste of their time. In addition, students are presented a one-sided view and not asked to question or investigate the facts for themselves in any way. 

Praxis encouraged that investigative learning that has to be practiced -- not taught. And although I will not use all of knowledge I learned about the Great Depression every day of my life, I can use my investigative learning skills to challenge assumptions and think outside the box. It's a whole new way of looking at the world, past and present. History is a tool to practice our examination and exploration skills, if we let it. 

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