Tips for teaching historical courses?




In our March “how can we help you?” thread, a grad student asks:

Does anyone have any tips about preparing to teach historical courses?

I’m a grad student working pretty much exclusively on contemporary issues, but I want to be able to teach historical classes at the undergraduate level. Doing that well seems to involve not only being familiar with the historical texts, but also important secondary literature. So if you want to teach a class on Hume, for example, you would want to know the texts from Hume you’re going to teach, but also some of the major interpretive views that are well-respected and could help guide you and your students.

Does anyone have any tips for doing this kind of preparation (i.e., getting a solid, but not research savvy grasp on a historical figure and some of the major secondary literature on their work) in a time-efficient manner?

Good questions. Personally, when it comes to historical figures and undergraduate courses, I like to stick to primary texts and try to simply work through them with students. I worry a bit about “poisoning the well” as it were, in terms of exposing them to other people’s ideas from secondary sources. But, of course, at the same time as an instructor it probably is a good idea to at least know what the going contemporary interpretations are. Anyone have any helpful tips?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More