I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’ve tumbled about and even briefly mentioned it here.
My American History Class is a Joke.
This is a real life situation and needs to be brought to light. I’m not holding back this time.
The lecture doesn’t follow the reading all that closely. Boohoo, the quizes and tests are usually on the reading anyway.
The terms lists are usually incredibly long. They contain very vague words such as Manifest Destiny – on which an entire chapter is spent discussing. They contains words or people that are briefly mentioned and that I do not see the relevance. They also contain words that are not even found in the week’s chapters or in the book at all.
Let’s just have a moment of silence for the textbook.
Of the People by James Oakes &co. is probably (besides all those old books with tiny print) THE WORST book I’ve ever read. It’s not even close to American History for Dummies. It’s American History for people who know everything already and just want to shoot the shit about it. Pardon my French, but it is horrendous. Even my friend, an History [ex]Major said so. Now I know I’m not crazy.
Anyway, one term is said to be found on page 497. THERE IS NO PAGE 497. The last paginated page of text is 480.
My favorite are always the very broad terms. I never know exactly what to write down for them so I write EVERYTHING. A special treat is when Oakes describes an event point by point, a thorough as you can ask, as bland as anything, and then says, “and that was the War of 1812.” Hey, thanks for letting me know AFTER the fact. Now allow me to go back and re-read all that nonsense I thought was just fluff – like everything else in the book.
Once I’ve finally pushed through hours of reading and life draining note taking, I have quite a few terms left over I had yet to define. This goes to show my alertness while reading – which isn’t necessarily my fault, but also unfortunate to realize so late in life that I have trouble reading serious material. It’s just one fact after the other, never a chance to breathe – except during Oakes’s frequent outlandish figures of speeches or personifications.
I did, however, breeze through a [seemingly] irrelevant chapter on the lifestyles of particularly religious people during the early 1800s (<– that’s me paraphrasing what I read. And that’s good.) Perhaps the lack of politics, presidents, and wars made it easier on me.
The component to the text book, Our Documents by Michael Beschloss is no help either. The intros to each primary source are helpful, but I’d have to memorize them word for word to remember all that is important about each document.
Why can’t people from the 1800s have talked like we do today?
Why is everyone always fighting?
Why does America think it’s such hot stuff?
Why are my textbooks awful?
Why does it not matter if I attend lecture or not? I won’t have a better understanding of the material either way.
Too harsh? I have never done well in History in my entire short life. But this book and class do not make matters any better. I cannot wait until evaluations at the end of the semester. Besides critting the TA on how awful he reinforces our lectures, I will put these books in their places.
*IRL = In Real Life