Up Close and Personal: Making the Past Come Alive
In this session, we explore strategies to help students connect with historical figures. We discuss and share examples that transform history into compelling and relatable content.
Mark Carnes, Barnard College
Students often complain that history is boring: “The past is dead,” they complain, “why don’t we just leave it alone?” This session explores strategies to help students connect with historical figures. A student’s struggles with credit card debt help illustrate Thomas Jefferson’s fear of banks and national debt, just as young people, uncertain about their own future, can better relate to the anxieties of a 17-year-old Irish girl in rural Ireland, contemplating emigration to the United States in the 1840s, or a soldier being sent to fight in the trenches of Europe in 1917. Once students have made this imaginative leap, they find history to be compelling.