Looking Back in Order to Move Forward
~ Brandon Grunden, Upper School Humanities Teacher, History
If you have read my previous posts, thank you! Before we get back into history for the 2017-2018 school year, I’d like to share with you one more post. Reflection is part of the expectations I have for my students. Whether it was based on something they read, watched, or discussed, student reflection tends to make things stick. With that, I think it is only fair that I reflect on this past school year and on some of the moments I addressed in my previous blog posts.
One of the great things about being a history teacher is learning alongside my students. Of course, I have been exposed to most of what I teach in history through my college course work. But to teach it day in and day out provides me with new insights and historical perspectives and forces me to have a perpetual appreciation for history that I hope to pass on to students. In my classes, we tend to focus on the deeper human implications from learning history by asking questions such as:
How is what I am learning relevant to me today?
How is it relevant to the community, nation, and the world today?
How is this shaping my character and my ability to relate to another human being who is created in God’s image?
If you were to walk into any one of our Humanities classrooms during a discussion, you might wonder if you were in a history class or a literature, theology, philosophy, psychology, or youth mentoring group simply because our discussions take us to deeper levels of the human experience, with history lessons and topics as our inspiration. As an aside, we do also spend time in laughter because we need healthy doses of joy and laughter to counter the tragic, which is unfortunately so prevalent in history.
There were some really deep conversations this past year, most often in the Modern World History and Christian Heritage I courses, which is fitting because the trajectory of human history changes so much during those time period. I am especially grateful for the students in those classes who showed up every day and were willing to tackle some hard questions—a tough task just minutes after the lunch period (for various reasons). I am sure there were times when these students were thinking, “Can’t we just learn about a person, a date, an event, without all of the heaviness?” The truth is we can, but the Angel of History (Part IX), and the current strains on our society demand that we use the study of history not just as a means of not repeating it, but also as a means of self-interrogation—leading to personal change with positive character outcomes such as empathy, compassion, understanding, critical thinking, and a genuine regard for others. These personal changes in how we view the world and relate to others have the potential to inspire young people to flourish as they grow in the love of Christ and uphold that fragile system of togetherness and accountability known as democracy.
I learned a lot from my students during the last school year as they opened up through their writings and their discussions. As I plan for this next school year, I am becoming excited about the possibilities of learning and growth that will take place in my classroom at Logos Academy, not only for my students but for myself as well.