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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #19)

Mon Jan 5, 2015, 10:38 PM

31. One of my favorite teachers was more about the approach than the specific material

He taught several subjects depending on the grade level and year, with a mostly traditional narrative going by the curriculum, but made a point of putting a lot of pressure on the students to interpret and not just recite it.

So we'd be talking about one topic or another and he'd pose a question, usually a fairly straightforward fact-based one (think "when was the Battle of Austerlitz?" or the like - something with a specific answer).

A student would respond, and then he'd follow up just with the word "Why?" They'd give another answer - usually talking about what was going on before the event being asked about - and then he'd ask "Why?" again.

Wherever the starting point, he wasn't really satisfied with a student until they could look at the starting event, follow it back through three or four or five or six links in the causal chain, and start thinking about what other events were tied to a point, or connected through other chains in a consistent mesh over space and time. It wasn't about "this inevitably led to this" as much as "these things affected one another, even if a century separated them."

Three or so would usually do it - this was an eleventh grade public school class after all - but sometimes the student would be on the ball, or he'd be in a weird mood, and we'd get these Byzantine cause-and-effect road trips connecting the space race to the Thirty Years War or whatnot.

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