A Rollicking Good Tale

Teaching History as Story

By Christopher Zehnder

Of the classes I can recall from high school, among the most tedious was sophomore history. History class with Mr. Faulmann (an alias) was almost invariably the same.  On an overhead projector, he would place an outline of the chapter he had assigned us to read and then proceed to read the outline aloud to us. We, the students, were required to copy the outline in our notebooks. That was all. He stuck with the book and only the book. The only variation in this routine came when Mr. Faulmann had to work on track scores (for he was the track coach.) At such times, he assigned us a chapter of our textbook to read, each to himself alone, in class.

I recall feeling a certain frustration with Mr. Faulmann’s procedure. I could not understand, having already read a chapter as homework and understood it, why I had it have it repeated to me in tedious outline form in class. But now, 30 years later, having myself taught both middle and high school history classes, I can somewhat sympathize with my erstwhile pedagogue. It is difficult to teach history, precisely because a student can simply read a good history text and understand the matter by himself. What is left for a teacher to explain in the classroom? This, of course, can make teaching history a simple affair for the pedant who is content just to “cover the material”; but for the teacher who wants history class to be something more than an exercise in the drilling in and regurgitation of facts, the teaching of history can offer a sturdy challenge.

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From an article by Thomas Storck

It is easier to be a Catholic here than in the mixed and busy push of the towns and cities.
-John T. Reily in 1885, commenting on Conewago, a very early Catholic settlement near the Maryland border in Pennsylvania.

From the nascent community in first century Jerusalem, which held all things in common (Acts 2:42-47), to efforts of today, Catholics have very often sought to establish explicitly Catholic communities, communities in which they could live out the Faith by establishing a way of life that corresponded with the teaching of the Gospel. And in some circumstances there was the additional reason that such separate communities were made necessary by the active hostility and persecution of surrounding society. In nineteenth-century America both the desire to live a way of life more in keeping with the Faith as well as the hostility of the surrounding Protestant society gave the impetus for the founding of many Catholic communities, and in this article I will describe a few of them. This is certainly not an exhaustive account of Catholic colonization in the United States during the last century, but simply a brief survey and a highlighting of some of the episodes that seem to me most interesting.
                The original European settlers of North America were, of course, Spanish Catholics, and those coming later included the Catholic French, and the English Catholics of Maryland. So in a sense all of their settlement could be called Catholic colonization. Moreover, these European Catholics evangelized the Native Americans and in many cases established Catholic communities for them. The French, for example, in order to protect their Indian converts from the still pagan atmosphere of their homelands, set up explicitly Catholic Indian villages near Montreal, and in Florida Indians converted by Spanish priests dwelt in Catholic communities.
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