Sunday, August 16, 2009

The value in geography class is not in the facts

Originally uploaded by trudeau
Facts can always be referenced via, Wikipedia, World Book, the site and many other sources.

The value in a high school social studies class is in the patterns you develop -

- punctuality.
- manners.
- locution / clarity in wording your questions and answers.
- beginning work each day without having to be told what to do.
- having the tools for the job on a consistent basis - the atlas, notebook, pens, colors, scissors, chewing gum (just kidding).

- knowing what can be found in the atlas, the textbook, the encyclopedia, thesaurus, etc.

- questioning.
- listening.

- spacing and appropriately annotating and illustrating your notes.
- mnemonics and visual learning aids.
- understanding the value of practice and repetition.
- having what author Ernest Hemingway called a "built in, shock proof crap detector." Also known as a sense of evaluation.

- sense of humor that fits the situation.

- understanding that school is a game. Play the game with a sharp sense of the rules and you can win without too much strain.

- jazz your projects with a snappy title.
- open your writing with colorful description, or a quote. Avoid boring your teacher or your classmates.
- don't study one topic when you can bring in a second topic and compare the two (fencing? Let's compare fencing to pottery, OK?).
- "according to ...": document your writing and your pronouncements with the phrase "according to the NY Times...".
- use quotes ("Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," is not what I'm talking about. Or is it?).
- be specific (today the price of a bbl of crude hit $116, said NPR).
- offer an example (such as the role of Niha Jain's special programs for students in winning admission to Yale).
- look for connections between topics, whether they are conflicts (compare the US occupation of Iraq to our role in the Vietnam conflict) or resources (compare Thomas Edison to Page & Brin, the fellows who founded Google).

- use varied media: video, powerpoint with voice-over, paper sculpture, the ouija board.
- use color in all study-related work.

- look it up - as we do in class as I quickly reference wikipedia on topics of our discussion.
- keep a record of all your work and as many scores as possible.

- find a middle ground between *sucking up to your teachers* and making a good use of the aid that is available from teachers.
- use your classmates' skills and generosity appropriately.

- don't be shy about asking for help when you are *not getting it.*

- ask questions of your classmates (when class allows such activity), whether formal ("Might I borrow thy eraser?") or informal (Great shoes. Where'd you get them?").
- compliment everyone ("You have the best smile!" or "Great shirt!" or "Your quiet intensity is so cool."). And follow it up with a question or two - about that other person.