Canada Correspondence Course?
Q: I'm starting correspondence courses this fall. Finally going back
for that history degree, hoping to eventually become a teacher like
I always wanted. The kids will both be in school, so it's finally
time. I have a couple questions I'm hoping someone here can answer.
First, Can you offer any advice that will make the distance
learning process easier? I'm worried about maintaining my
motivation since I won't actually be attending classes. I'm also
worried about not having much contact with the professors. Any
experienced correspondence students here have tips for me?
Second, Computer stuff. I'm thinking about upgrading to Office XP
from Office 2000 in order to have an easier time writing papers.
Has anyone here upgraded, and if so, what do you think of it? Was
installation easy? I figure the easier it is for me to do my
homework, the likelier it is I'll do it. I already have DSL, so
connection isn't a problem.
Third, an ignorant question for the educators among you. Is it
necessary to concentrate on American history in order to become a
high school teacher? For instance, if I concentrated on European
history, will I have a harder time getting a job when I graduate?
A:Motivation is indeed key. I'd try to make a plan for each course -- set a schedule for reading, study, writing with deadline dates for sending assignments. And often you can have some good interaction with the instructors. Try sending a cover letter with your first assignment to tell the prof something about yourself and your reasons for taking the course. Ask if it would be possible to schedule a phone call if you have questions about how to proceed with an assignment. With subsequent lessons, include a note about readings you found especially interesting or questions you found puzzling. Ask for suggestions for further reading and research. Personal and student motivation: both can be maintained, I think, by trying to advance your own historical interests and to anticipate student interests while also satisfying course requirements. History can be deathly dull (it was for me in highschool and college), but if you try to do more than "generals, presidents, and dates" you might stimulate yourself and your pupils. For example, you might do more in women's studies, you might question why New England differed from Virginia from the early 16th century, you might study Indian treatment, the Tory arguments against the Revolution, the southern position in the Civil War, cooking in Colonial America and etc. Be a contrarian and offer opinions that might differ from that of the textbook (and possibly your own). American History provides the most likely avenue to employment, but as a 'world historian'I hope you will not ignore history at large. It can maintain your own sanity. For example, I was stimulated by an answer given by my daughter's history teacher "why Europe rose and not Asia". Her teacher said it was "the climate." I took exception to the response and read more deeply into the history of 14-15 century China and India, the explorations of Adm He from China to Africa, and the subsequent 'isolationism' of the Ming dynasty just as the Portuguese were entering the Indian Ocean. What might this tell us about the impact of isolationism in America? Also, a section on slavery in America led me to examine slavery throughout the world: how it began, how it is defined, where slaves came from and etc. What is the impact of oral 'history' or historical 'truth'? While doing all this reading takes time, it keeps the brain alive and often helps you answer those pesky aside questions students (and your own children) keep raising.
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