final reflection

With respect to how this particular seminar has influenced my teaching of not just LIB 200 but also such courses as History of New York City, Urban Sociology, History of Minorities and honor’s courses in Themes in American History I and II, I would say that the greatest impact it has had is to make me rethink and reassess the ways I organize my ideas and structure my courses. One significant change this seminar has produced for my reconsideration of LIB 200, which I am slated to teach in Fall I, 2015, is to refocus my attention on how to best capture students’ interest in humanism, science and technology. In the past I have always started this course with the High Middle Ages, paying particular attention to the ways that European society responded to catastrophes, calamities, and crises, such as plagues, earthquakes, fires, floods, and other disasters. The students would read primary documents about specific events and then respond to sets of questions they would have to critically think about and reflect on. The work they did is very substantial and some times a bit overwhelming because of too much reading and writing. I now realize because of this seminar that “less is more.” For example, when I teach the next LIB 200, hopefully this coming Fall, I plan to start my conversation with the students by talking about recent calamities, like Katrina and Super Sandy, and have them do short essays on these events at the beginning of the semester rather than at the end. I would also have them work far more with current articles I’ve already scanned and put on Discussion Board. Once they have done a few short writing exercises then I would move them backward, perhaps all the way to the early Industrial Revolution or the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, so that they could get a more rounded understanding of how people in the past dealt with massive destructive events in their lifetimes.

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