A 'How To' Outline for Basic History Study and Learning

I once attended a class that gave a great outline for the best ways to study history. (Frankly, this outline is a good way to study almost everything!) I am unable to give credit to the developer of this outline as I have no idea who to give credit to, but I wanted to share it as it has been so useful to me. When I have studied almost any challenging subject, I find myself coming back to this particular way of studying. I find myself using this technique with the scriptures as well and I find that I really feel like I can learn more using it. So I really wanted to share it in the hopes that others will find it useful too!

How to read history assignments
read introduction which will tell you about about author and why they wrote book
read title of contents to examine organization
if you have time pre-read chapter introductions, subheadings and look at all illustrations and graphs before doing a full reading

Then ready to read: You will know
the topic of the book (what aspects of history covered)
background of author (political, history,journalist,etc...)
when book was written (a 100 yo classic, recent on topic, etc...
its thesis and conclusion – the principle point the author is making
hopefully you will learn to recognize and describe a weak thesis or unsupported evidence as time and learning goes on.

Reading a textbook
read text as close to appropriate lectures as possible
re-read if any parts are confusing
look for emphasis sections – notice your reactions or disagreements
take notes

Reading a monograph

a monograph is a specialized history work on a particular subject. Pay special attention to the theme and point of view- try to understand the author's assumptions and values
analyze, criticize and question

Reading an anthology
– an anthology is a book of readings, usually short excerpts from large works or primary documents. Usually describe a different aspect or interpretation of subject and can have disagreements. Expect students to be able to assess the arguments of the various authors and take a position to debate. Analyze the arguments different authors and compare different approaches.

Reading a historical novel
– work of fiction based on actual occurrences and people. Usually more dramatic and personal than a textbook or monograph. Be cautious to not treat this as historical fact. :)

Reading Assignments

From class lectures – PAY ATTENTION
Read text first to help minimize note taking. It will allow you to concentrate on new or different points
Determine points in lectures which are the most important
Listen to what the instructor stresses and what is different from the text
Be sure notes are coherent
From slides and films
take notes on what slides included note facts – don't relax!!!
examine emotional message and artistic content as well as historical fact

Taking notes in a “wired classroom” - traditional lecturing as well as audio, CD-Roms, internet. The key is to follow carefully the ways in which new media is used to compliment the theme or lecture. How do the pictures compliment the theme or lecture? Take notes on media and on relation to discussed topic

Guidelines for Peer Review

Don't be openly critical – assist classmates in seeing strengths and weaknesses. Ability comes from being on the outside of the research.
Pay attention to thesis – is it clear?
Does body of paper provide important evidence to support theses
are the points made in support of the thesis well organized and clear
are the papers conclusions justified by its arguments and documentation
be supportive!

How to write history assignments
demonstrate that your thinking on the subject is logical
convey to readers clearly what you understand
use clear sentences
do not use unnecessary phrases
link sentences
use past tense
avoid using passive voice
link paragraphs
change subject – change paragraph
have a clear beginning
use an outline
Rough draft

History is a record of human past
study of history important – helps us to understand human nature and behavior
gives us insight and understanding of contemporary affairs
the past shapes the present
societies use history to socialize children and teach them how to behave and think is socially/culturally important
different societies view history differently

Approaches to history – humanities and social sciences
humanities – see history as made up of unique people (actions and events)
social sciences – patterns in human thought and behavior over time

I hope this is helpful to all you students out there. I am headed back to school in a few months and I am getting nervous and excited all at once! A semester full of history just waiting to be explored... here I come! :)


Alone No More....

I had an interesting, painful experience at church last Sunday. It has taken me a few days to really process it and to understand this profound experience and how to complete my grief process to a peaceful acceptance. I once shared a really painful and challenging post on a different blog site about some of my previous experiences at church. And at that time, for the first time in a long time, I felt some support and a feeling of relief. I had so much emotion and pain bundled into my body and my heart and sharing some of the grief and challenges felt so releasing. I thought that in that experience I might have removed some of the pain- to puncture the bubble of figurative pus and then clean and bandage the wound so healing would occur. I now realize that was only a start, and not actually an experience that brought me near the end of my journey.

I have been enjoying Sacrament meeting so much lately. After years of being unable to really hear it, I take great comfort in being able to sit with paper and pen and just listen. I try and take notes on the things that strike me in the talks and later I usually head back to the apartment and reread and ponder the things that I have learned after a visit from Bug . I have also had the wonderful opportunity to help new friends with their children and so I can sit and rock with a beautiful spirit snuggled into my lap while we color or draw and sit and work on reverence. It is something that I enjoy so much and I look forward to every week. Sometimes, I will be surrounded by so many beautiful children that I can't take any notes, but I feel the spirit and I do feel spiritually fed. I so look forward to those meetings and the peace that I feel.

Yesterday was fast Sunday. I came to church a bit disheveled and very tired so I sorta knew that being or feeling spiritual would be harder for me. Within a few minutes of sitting down as we were singing the opening hymn I saw Ian out of the corner of my eye. When I looked over at him, he waved and slowly came over to sit with me. And so I spent Sacrament meeting with Ian sitting next to me watching him draw and quietly encouraging him to listen. It was a relatively normal Sabbath meeting for me... until the last testimony.

At that time, Ian had climbed right up onto my lap and was quietly sucking on his thumb while I slowly rocked him back and forth. Sister Erickson started talking about our ward family and how much it means to her. And as I listened, I slowly came to the realization that I feel a part of this family. For the very first time in my life, I truly feel like I have a real, supportive church family... a group that loves me and I belong to. And, as I rocked back and forth, I saw the past image of me standing in the back of the room. Standing all alone with my son in my arms or one my shoulders. Just alone. Feeling blocked off and alone and not able to fit in. Wishing for help, wanting help, begging and needed a friend and having no one. Just standing and wishing that I too could sit with everyone. And now I have it, but I don't have my son. I can't sit with him or hold him and that opportunity I lost forever. And without meaning to, I found myself rocking Ian and quietly sobbing like my heart was broken. I felt so alone and sad and just unable to stop rocking and crying. I just pulled Ian closer who seemed to enjoy it and he continued to smile and look at me as I sobbed. The testimony ended and the group started sing the hymn “Because I Have Been Given Much” and as I listened to the words I felt this pulling of gratitude for what I do have, but at that moment I felt so hurt and alone. I missed my son, my life, my loved ones, my siblings who are so far away and I didn't feel like I could move for the pain of it all. A moment later, I felt a person sit next to me and put their arm around me. For a brief moment, it felt like the Savior holding me and I heard the voice of Spencer W. Kimball saying “God does watch over us and does notice us, but it is usually through someone else that he meets our needs.” As people continued to sing, I sat and felt so loved and not alone at all. Even though I was in the back of the chapel and this brother had been sitting in the front, he felt prompted to notice and come help me... to hold me.... to remind me of Heavenly Father's pure love for me and soon I was able to sing the words as well.... “I shall give love to those in need; I'll show that love by word and deed: Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed....”

I know it to be true from the very bottom of my heart. I am not alone any more.