Friday, April 07, 2023

American Heritage

Rachel and Miriam (and Grandpa) arrived home this afternoon after a grueling 7.5 hour drive from Durham (it should have taken them about 5.5 hours but it was terribly stormy). Apparently Rachel drove 11 whole miles on the way up, but nothing on the way home (on account of the storm). The girls had a fabulous time, loved the show. Miriam was so impressed that the little 9-year-old boy who played Gavroche was able to lie still on the stage after he "died" (Benjamin, she determined, would never be able to do something like that, to which he responded that "actually, dead bodies twitch"). 

It's good to have the girls home! 

The little kids worked hard to clean the basement and we had it all nicely vacuumed by the time the girls came home. It was seriously messy when they left.

Andrew made Rachel take her American Heritage final after dinner. She wanted to wait until tomorrow, but Andrew reminded her that we have so many Easter things to do—like dying eggs and so forth—and she should just get it off her plate.

She was a little put out because she got a lower score than she expected on her final paper (I think she got an A-), which was frustrating because she had to write 14 other papers for the class and 100% on all of them, with no other feedback. So she felt blindsided by this sudden "picky" grading and was nervous going into her test because she'd banked on getting 100% on that essay because her test scored had been dragging her down. But she calculated everything out and if she got a 60% on the final test she'd at least get a B in the class (and you have to get at least 60% on the final, otherwise you have to take it again). 

She wasn't expecting to do well at all, but ended up scoring in the 80s (I can't remember what her score was now), giving her an A- overall!

Andrew got a B when he took American Heritage, so Rachel felt pretty happy about her grade. 

Even better is that the class is just over and she never has to think about it again. 

American Heritage is not a course enjoyed by many. I suppose it could be considered a "wedding out" course—courses that are so difficult that students will self-select out of certain tracks to avoid ever having to study that subject again. It worked on Andrew, honestly, he got a B- or something in intro to international relations as an undergraduate and was like, "Never again!" and switched to Middle East Studies, which was like political science...but different. 

Joke's on them because now he has a PhD in public policy and international relations and he teaches at the university level.

Weeding out is such a strange concept to me because in my heart of hearts (as, you know, someone getting a master's degree instructors should always been trying to kindle fires, not douse flames.

I understand the idea that some students simply don't have the aptitude to learn certain things (see that I said that I understand the idea, not that I agree with the idea...because I don't agree with the idea), but I feel like we should perhaps spend our time and energy teaching students—people—anything they want to learn, no matter how long it takes them to "get" it.

That said, maybe it's okay for people to self-select out of certain areas of study, explore alternative routes, and find their way to their passion in other ways. 

Whatever the case, I'm glad that I took American Heritage at UVU with Dr. Winkler (who was (is?) also the American and British History Librarian at BYU) because his lectures helped me become curious (not frustrated) about American History. 

And—this just in—his lectures are all on YouTube?!?? Thanks, random RateMyProfessor rater for sharing that tip! And thanks to COVID, which was apparently the impetus behind Dr. Winkler making these videos (since many were published...three years ago). Obviously there are many history lectures online, but it might be fun to have my kids sit in on a few of my old professor's lectures.

Anyway, at this house we're very happy to not have to worry about American Heritage anymore...until the next time one of our kids decides to take it...


  1. Was. He retired before Covid. Cool that he is still teaching at UVU.

  2. I hope they had a good time in Durham! I remember hearing Les Mis "advertised" on WUNC recently. Cool that some of the Heiss gang came up for it!

  3. You can say that again, "instructors should always be trying to kindle fires, not douse flames." The unquoted part of the sentence afore is something your grandparents (the pair that raised me) used very often.