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One of the best ways to improve your study skills in remembering the details of a historical event is to make up a silly or ridiculous visual in your mind. For example, if you are trying to remember that the American Civil War was fought between 1861 to 1865 and that the Confederacy's President was Jefferson Davis, while the Union's President was Abraham Lincoln, you can create a silly image in your head of Jefferson Davis riding a surfboard wearing a shirt with a "C" on it while racing Abraham Lincoln on another surfboard wearing a black top hat with an "U" on it. Picture Davis's surfboard having a cool graphic of the numbers "1861," while Lincoln's surfboard has "1865" printed on it. If you need to know more details for an essay question, you could add to the picture. You could have Davis holding a paper in his hand, which says "secession," and Lincoln could be holding a copy of "The Emancipation Proclamation" in his hand... read more

There are two "tricks" I have found to make history much simpler to learn. The first is to realize that time is always in motion and to track the cause/effect relationships throughout time (see "Time is a Flow"). The second is to apply emotions to history, and by that I mean to put yourself in the shoes of those before you. For example, I am tutoring two students in American history, currently at the events leading up to and including the Declaration of Independence. So, put yourself in the colonists' shoes. WHY were the set of acts setup by Britain so awful? WHY did the colonists have no choice but to rebel? Well, if you pretend that you are a colonist, the answers start making sense: You are being ruled by a monarchy across an entire ocean. At this point, you were probably born in America, so you have never even been to Britain. Yet, this king decides all of the laws for you and places taxes on items you use everyday... for what? To send more troops... read more

One of my pet peeves is how history is often taught. First off, history is about people and what happened, which is often rather exciting, not about dates. If you don't believe me that history can be exciting, just look at the #1 source for inspiration for video games (at least #1 when it comes to school subjects). Most strategy games are based on history and most others include history in their games (even if not our history *nods at Final Fantasy*). My other gripe though is that history is broken into sections. While I certainly admit the world has gone through major events and that sections can be helpful, so often I see history learned entirely as those sections. Time is a flow. History flows one event into the next. If we do not teach our students the cause-and-effect relationships throughout history, how are we supposed to learn from our past mistakes (and successes)? For example, I have a student who I am helping with history. He is studying world history from... read more

Are you wondering about how normal learning occurs as you try to help your student or perhaps yourself acquire new concepts? First, let’s think about what is normal. Normal is not a single state. In reality, every person is unique. Our brains all have the same basic structure but each person seems to be wired slightly differently. That is both wonderful and frustrating for someone trying grasp new ideas. In the beginning of life: As a child develops the parents and family members surrounding the child are the first instructors. Whether this teaching is done with intention or happenstance, everything that occurs around the child provides stimulus and occasions for learning. Most of this learning is by imitation. That is the moral behind the maxim to parents, “watch what you say, little pictures have big ears.” It’s also why the admonition “do as I say, not as I do” creates tension in a household. By now, since you are on a tutoring website, I think it safe to assume... read more

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