Touch the puppet head.

January 21, 2008, 4:17 pm

… and a pony

Hey, Kelman, we got blog-tagged! Does this mean we’re cool, or that we have cooties? Someone has to explain the Internets to me. In my day it was all 2400 bps access to BBSes.

So: why do I teach history? Because too many people swoon when sanctimony-mongering war-lover Tony Blair says, “There never has been a time when the power of America was so necessary or so misunderstood, or when, except in the most general sense, a study of history provides so little instruction for our present day.” Too right, Tony! This time out will be completely different! Except, not so much. We are stuck in historical grooves, and it will take more than Tony Blair and his magical world-transforming war-pony (now with special Bill Clinton approval!) to get us out of them.

Which is by way of saying, if there isn’t a group of people who spend their time teaching history qua history, the only thing people hear about history is what the agents of an administration want you to hear. It’s just like World War II, people! Which was the good war! When will you people understand that all this is okay because Lincoln did it! Or maybe Roosevelt. Anyway, it’s good if Roosevelt did it unless it was the New Deal, because the New Deal was bad, unless you can add. What were we talking about? Look, over there, some monuments to the dead! Be reverential! And vote for me.

So I teach history because I don’t like that treatment of history. Which doesn’t, of course, explain why I don’t like it. Cussedness, I expect.

Here’s a secret: another reason I teach history is because I like it. A lot. I like going into the classroom, talking to students, reading and thinking about books and sources. I like putting lectures together, paring them down to the key points, and picking good visual elements to make the argument carry itself. There is no essential part of teaching I do not like.

Then there is the historical answer, which is: I started it a while back, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and they still let me.

Kelman should go before we tag anyone else.

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