I am Eric Cunningham, Professor of History at Gonzaga University and subject editor for World and Western Civilization II 1500 – present. As I enter into the fall term with a new set of students (at present 64 who are taking my World Civ II class), I’ve decided to take a high-altitude scan of the course and the anthology. I’m finding that the Milestone textbook articles that we published a few years ago (and for which I served as Editor in Chief) are really superior, and I’m hoping we can bring, systematically, more of these into being. The length, scope of coverage, and diverse expertise on these pieces are strong, and I know my students appreciate them. I stopped using a commercial text about three years ago, and outside of my lectures, these articles are the only narrative thread they have.
The original coverage of the textbook articles in this particular course came from concepts I had been teaching (and TA-ing for my profs) for years, and they blended well with the kinds of primary sources I was using. As my syllabus changes from year to year, I find that it would be nice to have more of them. If anybody out there has ideas on other topics we might write these articles for, it would be very good to discuss that. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!
I’ve been going through all the texts with an eye for catching typos and keying errors that may have been made early on during the mad rush to get a great database going. There have not been many errors at all, but it will add to the quality of the data base to get them expunged.
I’m also looking carefully at the quizzes, many of which I wrote last year and the year before. I confess that I’m not always sure what I was trying to get the students to be aware of when I put these together. Each document demands a different kind of understanding. It seems to me that if you have multiple choice questions at the college level, they better be worth the trouble. Some of the quizzes I wrote are, I admit, really nitpicky, and even interpretive, rather than merely content-based—which means there may be philosophical disagreements with the answer or even the question. In any event they ARE a great teaching tool, but if you’re looking for a quick and easy assessment, some quizzes may pose challenges. I’d be open to revising or even rewriting some of them, per the input of other instructors out there.
I’ve had some exchanges of ideas with the Milestone Docs editorial staff about the supporting material that accompanies the primary sources in the collection. At present I am writing a good many “overviews” for newer documents that don’t have them, and I’m wondering if down the road every text needs the larger commentary that also sometimes exists (e.g. “Explanation and Analysis,” “About the Author,” “Audience,” etc.). The argument for it is that we will all have a more complete product—the argument against is that it can be spoon-feeding, and that offering this material robs us of the opportunity to test them by asking to give their own explanations. So I’m wondering if, like the quizzes, the auxiliary material should be available for a virtual “Instructors Manual” and leave the students only the overview. This is something I’ll be discussing with the Milestone team and the other subject editors of the collection in the coming months.
Eric P. Cunningham
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