Stanford History Education Group Reading Like A Historian Worksheet Answers

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“Palo Alto is like a small town in an ocean,” said Dr. Helen Greer, holder of the Stanford degree in History. “It has an air of intellectualism. Stanford students study hard and do their work independently, which is good. But being part of a learning group helps them see things not just from a distance, but from the perspective of others. The reading group gives them an opportunity to apply what they have learned and get help from others as well.”

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For a time, I was a member of the Stanford reading group, an informal group of people who participated in reading assignments and discussions. I wore my heart on my sleeve. I worried about what we were learning. I didn’t want to read too much or make too many mistakes.

“We had the same problems as everyone else. We were eager to learn. Some of us hardly slept. Some of us became fearful. But none of us felt like we were losing our minds.”

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The point is that we did not look at our reading list that night. We sat down together to make notes. Most of us wrote our first paragraph, then we added in a review and a conclusion. We discussed how the reading list made us feel as if we were reading in our heads rather than in reality. After a few minutes we were all in agreement and our minds were focused on what we were reading and what we needed to know.

What we took away from that reading experience was tenacity. Tenacity helps you absorb information. If you don’t take notes while reading, chances are you will lose your train of thought. You might miss some important points.

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What does your reading list say about you? It may not be accurate. Yet, if you are writing about someone else’s work, chances are good that the work you are reading is reflective of who you are. Your Stanford reading group likely have insights about you similar to the notes you made in class.

My students tell me that reading is like meditating. As they listen to the discussion and as they read the assigned reading, they gain insight into their own thinking. The history education class gives them the opportunity to reflect on their own thoughts and to apply that reflection to the coursework. When that happens, learning actually starts.

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The point is that reading history is different than just reading it is. That reading becomes practice. Practice makes perfect. As students reflect on the reading, they find ways to apply what they learned. This reflection process strengthens the learning.

Take time to read with a group. Schedule a time to talk about what you have learned. Ask questions. Listen to others’ thoughts. Use the opportunity to communicate. At the end of the day, you will realize that the time you shared was probably more valuable than the time you wasted reading alone.

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In the third week of each semester, I suggest that we read a short article. This doesn’t have to be about history. In fact, the articles can be about any subject. The only limit is your imagination.

On the reading day, we all sit in a circle and start at the beginning. We read the first sentence. We discuss what we have learned. Then we discuss how we can apply what we have learned to our personal lives. We encourage one another. It is a great time for communication.

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If you don’t know anyone who can use this program, you can create your own. Make it a class project. It doesn’t even need to be about history. You could create an essay, a mini-biography, or a description of a local restaurant. The sky is the limit!

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