Tips of the Day

By , March 10, 2020 6:11 pm

Hopefully Helpful Hints

1.  If you want to sign out a textbook, please ask Ms. G. There’s lots of background historical information on a number of topics. The book is called The West and the World. It is not gigantic.  It could be useful for step 1. In particular look for chapters on imperialism and decolonization.

2. It’s okay to feel unsure of where you’re going when you start to research the historical background of your topic. As you look at more sources you will start to see certain events written about over and over. That’s a pattern and it’s telling you where to focus. Research is a trial and answer process. Everyone feels unsure at the start! Even people like me who have been researching for over 30 years!

3. To figure out what background information is, think about the topic from the perspective of a person who knows absolutely NOTHING about it. Therefore, you’d require the most basic things (always including dates). There are two main areas of research for most topics. First, the colonization process: how and when did it start? Who was interested? Was it for trade, religious, and or other reasons? How were the people treated by the colonizing power/imperial power? How were they excluded, discriminated against, limited? Second, the decolonization process: who wanted to get out from imperial rule? How did they do it? Peaceful, violent? Were there different groups with different approaches? Did the colonizing/imperial power resist? How? How did people still experience discrimination after independence? Note that this course begins in 1450. Don’t examine things before that date.

4. Take good notes. The process is as important as the final product. Those who have good notes absolutely do better on the essay. Notes aren’t meant to be drudgery. They are the thing that opens up your world to an understanding of your topic. Write little reminders to yourself if something you take a note on sparks a thought or a suggestion of where to look next. Use the column note-taking method to help you with this. If you value your notes, you will get more out of them. If you seem them as an annoyance, you’ll tend to end up with little to work with for your essay. And thus a poor essay. Take notes on the two big topics above (colonization and decolonization). Don’t try to take notes on the bullet point categories for CCA Step 1 (internal, external, long-term, medium-term, short-term, PERSIAT factors, etc.). You can fill them in on your note-taking template as you go or after you take a good chunk of notes.

5. Things you should always have in your history notes:

  1. dates of events
  2. descriptions of who people are (name dropping is not helpful in history – if you include someone’s name in your notes you need to know who they are. More importantly, your reader will need to know who they are).
  3. HTC connections – especially causes and consequences and continuities and changes

6. Mine each general source for as much information as you can by varying your search term. Think you looked up your topic on Encyclopaedia Britannica or Gale Global Issues In Context? There are so many other ways to find more information in the same source just by switching up what you’re looking for or clicking on related subjects. There are key people, key events. Remember, you’re not done when your notes reach the end of the page. You’re done when your notes are thorough.

March 9, 2022

I thank you very much and you should thank yourself for investing in your research and writing future.

– Ms. G

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