Netanyahu’s holocaust claims; Trafalgar anniversary; Ole Miss says “take it down”; on teaching & textbooks; Robert Lee Hodge speaks; ancient ghosts

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Did you hear who Netanyahu just partially blamed the holocaust on? If not, I’m sure you can guess. Obviously, the reaction has been swift, intense, and controversial.

Besides being “Back to the Future Day,” today is the anniversary of Nelson’s huge victory against Napoleon’s fleet at Trafalgar. Today’s not a bad time to remind ourselves of why that was kind of a big deal.

How did that vote go last night on the Ole Miss campus in regards to the state of Mississippi flag and its Confederate symbol? Take it down, they said.

Excellent NY Times opinion piece here that shows why active voice (which is almost always a better way of writing) is particularly important when writing about slavery in our textbooks.

So that Op-ed by Molly Worthen that advocated good old fashioned lectures has provoked a response. Josh Eyler of Rice University has a detailed blog post in which he argues that “active learning is not our enemy.” I’m not sure that was Worthen’s point; I took it to be more “lecture is not our enemy.” Nevertheless, underneath the somewhat condescending tone of the post (which, ironically he calls Worthen out for) is a good defense of “active learning.” As I mentioned when I posted Worthen, I myself use some active learning practices in some of my classes, so I don’t see it as an “enemy” either, but I do not think that Eyler has totally destroyed Worthen’s point about how this current generation of learners actually NEEDS lecturing. And then, ironically, he concludes with what I think that everyone, (including Worthen) would agree is a perfect example of good lecturing.

And while we are on teaching and textbooks: The Atlantic has a long but interesting piece on the biggest problems with the way history and social studies are taught in schools: 34% of history teachers are not qualified to teach it, and thus they lean on textbooks, many of which are themselves problematic. All too often the result is a glossing over of the struggles of minorities (although I would argue that the interpretation problems don’t end there).

Anyone that has ever read the great book, Confederates in the Attic knows that one of the best and most colorful/strange things about it is Robert Lee Hodge. Well, the dude is still around, and today Civil War Monitor has an interview with him.

And for today’s “just for fun” Halloween-season posting: Let’s take a look out some ghost tales from the ancient worlds of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, India, and Mesoamerica.

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