|The College Boys who broke and |
ran: one of my keystone tales
on the campus. / CC Deb Pittenturf
This semester has been tough on me. It has felt like a never ending struggle to reach these kids, to show them that history can be exciting and personal and deeply human. On the first night of class, after going through the syllabus, I asked the question I ask of anyone with a desire to study history: "why do you hate history?"
Typically it conjures answers swirling around lists of dates and names with no context, no meaning.
Back in January, after we had reviewed the required reading and research paper for the course, it elicited a different response from one student: "I hate reading and I hate writing."
I was incensed that night, a holy fire lit within my gut. I didn't know how I would make it through the semester. I didn't know how I could reach out to these students. That night has haunted me this whole semester, constantly nagging at me and making me doubt that I could get through.
Monday night, I got an e-mail from the same student who said she hates reading and writing:
I come home to write science papers, but instead find myself googling Crocker and Hopkins! There is so much interesting stuff documented from the war.... This stuff is so cool!”
As we all walked back from the President's House toward Weidensall Hall, she admitted to me that as she started reading Drew Gilpin Faust's This Republic of Suffering for class, she was already thinking how "gross" it must have been on the campus in 1863.
I guess that's as good enough a reason as any to do this. She closed her note Monday night with a simple comment: "Hope that wasn't the last of the tours...."
I hope so too.