what am I doing wrong?
Ok, so I've been teaching for a while now. I'm now at a point where students who have been taking my classes since they were freshmen are in my upper-division classes... and yet they seem to have learnt nothing. At least, they seem not to have learnt to use primary sources very well. And this makes me crazy, because it's something I focus on in the surveys all the time. It's not that they are hopeless; they are not bad at using the material in the documents, at least. But they seem really unwilling or unable to consider the source, if you know what I mean.
It makes me crazy. I set up assignments that are gradually more difficult -- assignments that require them to think about authorship. And they do it, more or less. In class, before we talk about a document, I always ask the students to tell me about the document -- author, temporal and geographical context, you all know the drill. And yet, when I give them an assignment that requires them to tell me what a set of documents tells me about X, it's as if each document exists in a vacuum.
So, I'm going to finish up with my marking and do some revamping of classes, I think. And I think I'm going to add an assignment or two that require the students to work in groups to tell me everything they can about the documents and their authors before we even start to look at the contents.
What do you think?