I initially chose the class Age of Exploration to satisfy my history requirement for two primary reasons; I had heard from upperclassmen that it was interesting and not extremely difficult to do well in, and I had also heard that there were no assigned tests during the duration of the class. I’m going to be honest here and admit that a class that has a reputation for giving out fairly easily earned good grades and for not having tests is exactly what an under-achiever like me wants in school. It’s not that I’m lazy, but being a human, let alone a teenager, I’d say that I always strive to find what will get me by with the smallest amount of effort. Thus, I signed up for this class.
I soon discovered during the research process, however, that the class was not all that it had been said to be. Sure, there are a lot of long, extended work periods in which one can slack off if they so choose, making it seem “easy”, but in the end the requirements for the project mean that if you don’t actually use the class time, you’re screwed. In a way, this element actually makes the class more challenging, forcing you to rely on yourself and your own planning to get the work done. Instead of having a teacher to keep you on track by assigning homework nightly, you must plan out what you need to accomplish, as well as when it must be accomplished by, in order to successfully complete your project. Doing all of this while conducting a research project is actually quite a daunting task, which requires a great deal of maturity and self control to keep oneself from procrastinating work. As a researcher, I’ve found my hardest task not to be collecting information or presenting it, but rather motivating myself to delve deeper and deeper into the topic instead of simply accepting what I have as being good enough.
This class, in my opinion, is not solely about learning raw material, but rather it concerns learning about ourselves as students, and as people. Instead of teaching us to simply follow a task list and accomplish the bare minimum, Mike is teaching us important life skills in regards to future projects and classes, which will be helpful both in and out of school. While I have learned a lot about history in this class so far, I have also learned a lot about myself, and what it means to be a lifelong learner.
“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learned.” – Thomas H. Huxley