Thursday, August 11, 2011

World History Skills

This year I added a section to my World History I syllabus designed to highlight the skills I seek to develop in that course. This is especially important at Shippensburg University, where all freshmen are required to take it, not just for content, but under the heading of "required skills and competencies" specifically for its skill development potential. Here they are:
1.) Global competence – The cultural literacy and habits of mind necessary to work with people from around the world has become a critical aspect of modern education. At Shippensburg University, the world history program is the most important element of developing this skill set.

2.) Communication skills – The 2011 annual survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers identified written and verbal communication as the skills in which they wished to see the most improvement in their pool of potential employees. World History I is just one of the classes where these are developed at Shippensburg University. You can never get too much.

3.) Symphonic thinking – Employers also want employees who can recognize patterns and see big pictures. This is one of the key tasks of the historian, and I doubt it’s an accident that when I once did an informal survey of friends to find out what they got from their history courses that was relevant to their lives after graduation, many of them referenced something about learning to organize knowledge.

4.) Reading for learning – This refers to the ability to determine the main points of a text and understand it thoroughly in as efficient a manner as possible. Our readings of Crone will be important to developing this skill early, before we begin reading sometimes archaic-sounding primary sources and occasionally scholarly articles.

5.) Considering evidence – An important part of reasoning is the consideration of evidence to see what we can learn from it, as well as how pieces of evidence can be combined to form larger arguments. This is the most important skill for historians, and so this class is a useful place to develop it.

6.) Attention to detail – Life is more than just details, but details still matter. Have you used appropriate detail in making your case in your paper or discussion? Are your citations and formatting correct?



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