Seriously. I did not begin my life as an American historian but find myself one. And now I find myself in Texas with a group of my students and I’m inundated with questions. There are other teacers here – including a doctoral student in American Studies – but as I am their history teacher they expect me to know everything.
Which brings me to today’s somewhat frivolous topic: can an IB history teacher anticipate all possible questions and have the answers on hand? Of course not; the IB curriculum is so extensive that even comprehensive knowledge of the different 20th century topics is next to impossible.
I thought the onset of Wikipedia and availability of Internet in general would make my life easier, and in some ways it does. When students are told Germany was ordered to pay 6.6 billion pounds, someone inevitably asks how much that is in current currency. And, even though the question comes every year, I forget to look it up. So, I ask one of the students to look it up, and voila – the answer is provided. (NB: answer is 308 billion according to http://www.measuringworth.com/calculators/exchange/result_exchange.php)
But more often, students read things on the Internet in search of information that creates more information. So – some of my students asked me why Steve Austin was called the 6 million dollar man and I went in to a lengthy and weak explanation about the 1970s television program only to find out they wanted to know about the man for whom the capital of Texas was named. Here I was on slightly more familiar territory but I couldn’t recall – did he die at the Alamo in the struggle for Texas independence? (no) Was he a commander against Santa Anna? (no) Was he an adventurer and settler? (yes)
So, all’s well that ended well, and the students were satisfied but then – one of my colleagues asked why every town in Texas has a street named after Lamar. “Who was Lamar?”
You can look it up, Dan …