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Georgia's Design Narrative
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23 April 2016
I had to teach as a visiting lecturer a course to third year undergraduate students in the Department of History. The course was on how to use and analyse primary sources.
The teaching took place at a university in Athens. The majority of students were Greek. There were also three Erasmus students from Spain who spoke fluent Greek.
The first step in the teaching was to teach students a theoretical lesson on the various primary sources we use when we study history and how we analyse them. Then I set up a topic, the invasion of the Italian forces in Greece in 1940. The students were divided in four groups consisting of five students each.
Each of the four groups was responsible for finding and analysing one primary source and then they had to present their findings to the other groups. The first group’s focus was media (newspapers and radio). The second group focused on the military primary sources. The third group focused on the diplomatic primary sources. The fourth group was responsible for private primary sources (such as letters, memoirs, diaries etc).
Not all of the groups had the same difficulty in locating their primary sources. Some faced more difficulties than others. Some students had difficulty in following the steps they needed to follow in order to analyse their primary sources.
I understand that it is necessary to give tasks to students which are of similar difficulty. However, this is not always possible as it depends on what sources are available. Students also need in advance significant training on how to analyse primary sources with the use of various examples before they can be asked to analyse primary sources all by themselves.