Since I'm taking a couple of history classes this semester, I've been thinking about history as a subject. I have a few observations:
1) I find that I'm skeptical of the method of teaching history that history books employ. I find that I learn history better through my Music and Theatre Appreciation classes, which are essentially music history and theatre history. Additionally, as I read various books outside of class, I pick up on the history which frames the book much easier than by reading it from a history textbook. Perhaps this is because I actually care about music and theatre. Perhaps this is also due to the fact that it is easier to track the history of one subject easier than it is to track the history of... well, history. I've come to realize that history textbooks are essentially super-condensed compilations of the history of music, theatre, art, religion, politics, slavery, literature, the economy, pop culture, the Native Americans, the military, etc. No wonder I'm having trouble keeping track of it all. I find that I learn history much easier when I am dealing with one subject through time rather than all subjects through time. Does that make sense?
2) I wonder as to the future of history classes. Assuming that mankind is going to keep the length of one's education relatively constant, I can't help but think of the ceaseless condensation of history that will take place. Think of this: 10,000 years from now, we'll be considered the early church. The fact is, we've had enough of a time studying the first 2,000 years of church history. How about music? If the world goes on for another 100,000 years, will people even realize what the "classical" or "baroque" period even means? Perhaps all of the musical advancement made from 500 AD to 5000 AD will be lumped into one paragraph under the heading "Music's Beginnings. Does this strike anybody else as weird?
I think this is why Mr. Richter's history teachings have stayed with me fairly well. We clamped down on a specific event in history and tracked it for a while, rather than trying to fly through a 50 year period per every hour of class. I will probably rely more heavily on theological books, autobiographies, journals, an novels to learn my history (after these cursed classes are over).