Comments on: Can a textbook change your intellectual life? http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/04/can-a-textbook-change-your-intellectual-life/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Wed, 03 Sep 2014 01:16:07 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Western Dave http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/04/can-a-textbook-change-your-intellectual-life/comment-page-1/#comment-883320 Fri, 07 Oct 2011 02:40:52 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16789#comment-883320 I started using Keene, et. al. Visions of America last year with my 10th graders last year. I’m pretty happy with it (the target demo is Junior College I think). Unlike HS textbooks it has a clear narrative and the support materials for students are excellent. The questions at the bottom of the page are good for checking reading comprehension and the questions at the end of the chapter don’t necessarily have a right answer. Most importantly, visual sources are thoroughly integrated into the text with break-outs that help students learn how to analyze images. I’m really weak at visual culture stuff but the HS students find it really helpful for learning the material and remembering it. Plus, lots of images of dogs peeing on things. (The description of why this keeps showing up in images is pretty funny too.)

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By: Adam Arenson http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/04/can-a-textbook-change-your-intellectual-life/comment-page-1/#comment-882846 Thu, 06 Oct 2011 04:17:32 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16789#comment-882846 I have followed Lendol Calder’s Uncoverage into dueling textbooks, with Zinn now paired with the Patriots history by Schweikart and Allen endorsed by Rush Limbaugh. I say up front both are imperfect, which may confuse more students than it enlightens, but they all walk out not ready to trust any one book (though perhaps Wikipedia). In my large lecture I have them write small narratives of their own, too–and most say they like the primary sources best. So nothing perfect, but all efforts to beat the textbook authority (and its publishing complexes?) should flourish.

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By: Comrade PhysioProf http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/04/can-a-textbook-change-your-intellectual-life/comment-page-1/#comment-882823 Thu, 06 Oct 2011 02:37:37 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16789#comment-882823

I’m interested to learn that I’m actually younger than CPP[.]

I was several years younger than my college classmates, so maybe not!

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By: Belle http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/04/can-a-textbook-change-your-intellectual-life/comment-page-1/#comment-882746 Wed, 05 Oct 2011 21:56:29 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16789#comment-882746 I teach a gawdawful survey of World History to 1500 – so Susan’s Rome-Renaissance sounds downright heavenly. And yes, I do use a textbook for the ‘grand narrative’ and then… I challenge it in class. We dissect the argument, challenge for evidence, argue interpretation, because what I insist they understand is that history and the doing of it means you interpret available evidence, not just that which confirms your own belief.

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/04/can-a-textbook-change-your-intellectual-life/comment-page-1/#comment-882671 Wed, 05 Oct 2011 17:18:12 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16789#comment-882671 I just came back from an “Occupy” event at which a student held up a three-inch wide chemistry textbook and said it cost her $350, so the economics of the thing certainly weigh in the scale on the side of don’t use a text. In 10th grade we actually had *two* ancient history textbooks, which were not at all stylistically like modern texts, with their sidebars and movie reviews and interactive graphics URLs. Being that we were tenth graders, and some of us boys at that, the fact that the authors were James Henry Breasted and Hayes and (the) Moon were enough to keep us amused–which is what they called “engaged” in those days. But they were also good.

I’m not a textbook essentialist. In fact I’m looking at a satiric collage I put together by cutting up the copy of one of those hyper-dumbed-down “Four Letter Texts” (e.g. _HIST_) put together by my favorite corpocratic publisher, CENGAGE (Student-Tested, Faculty Approved). It almost doesn’t even appear to have an author except for a picture of a group of technocrats denominated as “The Team.” I don’t always use a text, but when I do, I prefer Murrin, et. al. Stay curious, mes amis!

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By: Matt_L http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/04/can-a-textbook-change-your-intellectual-life/comment-page-1/#comment-882669 Wed, 05 Oct 2011 17:16:41 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16789#comment-882669 I still use Joseph Rothschild’s “East Central Europe between the Two World Wars (Washington:1974) when teaching Eastern Europe. Ivan Berend has a more recent survey of the same era and region, but Rothschild’s political narrative is still incredibly useful. It lets students see and make comparisons between Poland and Czechoslovakia, for example.

Many of the monographs on East European history are erudite, but so specialized as to be incomprehensible to most undergrads. Same with the journal articles. Its not the kind of reading that gets them fired up and ready to come back for more.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/04/can-a-textbook-change-your-intellectual-life/comment-page-1/#comment-882629 Wed, 05 Oct 2011 15:13:15 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16789#comment-882629 Thanks, Leslie! (Your kickback on my royalties will be in the mail soon.) Good for you for making your students read monographs.

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By: Leslie M-B http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/04/can-a-textbook-change-your-intellectual-life/comment-page-1/#comment-882622 Wed, 05 Oct 2011 14:54:21 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16789#comment-882622 The last time as a student I used a U.S. history textbook was when I was 15 years old, so I think I’ve been associating textbooks with high school students rather than undergraduates.

I did use a textbook with my U.S. survey (to 1877) last year, but that was as much a crutch for me–as I said, I hadn’t taken a survey course since 10th grade–as for the students. Now that I’ve reviewed that content and restored my confidence in my knowledge of U.S. history, I’m using primarily monographs (including yours, Historiann–mwah!), as well as a pretty crappy “major problems” sources/essays book that I won’t use again.

Plus, I can’t help but be petty about certain textbooks. I realized after ordering the one from last year that one of its authors is the person who actively worked to keep me out of hir graduate history seminar because I was a cultural studies student. I won’t be sending her royalties again anytime soon, I assure you. :)

I admit my primary-sources-and-monographs approach this year is more than a little disorienting to my students, many of whom are first-year students. Recently, though, they do seem grateful that I’m not dragging them on a forced march through a textbook and expecting them to memorize a bunch of dates, acts, and battles, which apparently was their high school experience.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/04/can-a-textbook-change-your-intellectual-life/comment-page-1/#comment-882606 Wed, 05 Oct 2011 14:09:26 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16789#comment-882606 You are right, Nicoleandmaggie. I think historians need to re-imagine the textbook. But from what I gather, textbook companies are pretty conservative when it comes to the books they think they can sell. In many respects, historians–or the people who are teaching most intro classes these days–want what most of our students want, which is the same old, same goddamned story they read in 5th, 8th, and 11th grade.

But, really: what is the point of a textbook if it’s not the handmaiden of mass education at the lowest price? Maybe that’s my biggest beef. They’re meant to serve the 100-,200-, or 500-seat “classrooms” (or rather, stadiums).

This is why I say blow them up and let the students put together their own stories from the fluttering scraps that are left. (So to speak.)

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By: Nicoleandmaggie http://www.historiann.com/2011/10/04/can-a-textbook-change-your-intellectual-life/comment-page-1/#comment-882590 Wed, 05 Oct 2011 13:20:56 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16789#comment-882590 Maybe history just needs better textbooks.

Though I had an undergraduate American Economic History class with Atack and Passel as the text and supplemental readings on top of that. I feel like I learned a lot of critical thinking from it, and definitely didn’t come out thinking there was just one accepted story for everything, or that thinking about these issues stopped in the 1980s. Maybe on a few issues, but that’s just because the field of economic history really has stopped thinking about those for the time being and has been focusing on other areas.

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