I am still largely off-line. Yesterday I consolidated the material I had written on boxing, today I want to consolidate some of the material I have written on the study of history.
Part of the reason for the last is that I am now involved with a UNE history course in my role as an adjunct and a member of the Heritage Futures Research Centre. The course, HINQ101 The Historian, is summarised in this way:
Before you study the history, study the historian' (E H Carr) is a fundamental maxim of historical inquiry. This unit looks at the most important and influential historians from the time of Herodotus down to the present day. The unit emphasises the importance of the individual writer of history as a creator of knowledge about the past, and how the role of 'historian' has changed over time. The way in which an individual historian imagines and articulates the past is necessarily flavoured by their personal background and perspectives. The historian is also prejudiced by his/her political and cultural context, and the purposes for which a history is written. Students will analyse and compare the work of at least two historians in detail.
I am not teaching in the course, nor do I have a formal position. I am there as a resource and a practicing non-academic historian who is available to answer queries and participate in discussion with students via UNE's Moodle system.
It's actually slightly nerve wracking. I haven't used Moodle before, while I am also remote at this point from the detail of the student's direct experience in the course. I am conscious of the need to be helpful, not a distraction, given that I have quite evolved ideas developed outside the normal academic environment.
To my knowledge, the idea of involving adjuncts (I am not the only one) outside normal staff to try to enrich the student experience is somewhat novel. It's actually a very good one, I think, because it gives students access not just to a wider range of ideas and practical tips, but also to the broader university and professional community.
Moodle makes this possible because all those involved can post their own concerns and ideas. This is especially helpful for external students remote from campus and actually goes back to a core idea in UNE's original approach in pioneering this form of education - education as interaction between staff and students no matter where they may be physically located.
I had been intending to consolidate some of my writing on the writing of history, but I now have an additional reason for some of this may actually be useful!