I think that the readings for this week were quite interesting, but I’m not really sure how to respond to them. This week feels like that awkward, nebulous space between theory and practice. The conception that history needs to be taught and approached in new ways doesn’t seem revolutionary to me, it almost seems common-senseical. Similarly, it doesn’t seem groundbreaking to want to have students partake in different types of learning, of expanding the modes of knowledge production. Of course, this is speaking in abstractions, in theoretics, not in practicality. In practice, it’s easiest to use what’s been tried and tested – easier, not necessarily better.
I feel like I have constantly come back to Thomas Kuhn in this class, and perhaps that’s because what he describes as the crisis in Normal Science and the following revolution is exactly what this class is indicative of in the Humanities. If there wasn’t a perceived crisis in the methodological approaches in the Humanities, then we wouldn’t be worried about doing things differently, we would be complacent in our “Normal History” or our “Normal Art History” or our “Normal <insert humanities discipline here>.”
The real question for me is not will things change or how they will change but when they will change. T. Kelly’s, Teaching History in the Digital Age, investigates the hows, the whys, and the potential for change with substantial rigor in chapter 4. Engaging students and having them thoughtfully approach the subject matter at hand is important, but I wonder how long it will take universities and professors to give up the ghost of the last 100 years of history production/teaching methodologies and allow a new paradigm to formulate. Kuhn might say that everyone who’s invested in the current paradigm might have to either die or retire for that to occur, but clearly there are already bastions out there wherein the shift is occurring. In any event, I’ve always found historical eras of transition to be quite interesting, so I find myself fascinated to feel like I’m watching one occur all around me (both inside academia and outside).