How do we encourage our students to think of the past not as a grand narrative to be learned from a textbook (or a teacher), but as a complex constellation of events, values, personalities, and ideas that can be analyzed and understood from a variety of perspectives and that can be used to construct multiple possible stories about the past?Ambitious, but worthwhile, aims. Cross-file under Pedagogy.
This is a challenge that I face when teaching a one-semester “Ancient History” course that is meant to cover the ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome from pre-historic times to the conversion of Constantine. As I have shared earlier on this forum, I begin the semester by emphasizing the fragmentary nature of our sources from and for the past, and the ethical responsibilities we have as historians to fill those gaps humbly and honestly – and to allow some of them to remain uncomfortably empty.
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