A&S’s Teaching Hub Features Dr. Juan Ponce-Vázquez’s Atlatl Lesson

from The Teaching Hub

As someone who teaches courses on colonial Latin American history in Alabama, and previously in the rural northeast, I have not had many chances to bring history to life for my students. In the past, I have taken students to museums when a temporary exhibit came to a nearby city. For the most part, however, teaching within my discipline involves the classic things you have come to expect from a history class: lectures, active student participation in discussions, papers, and readings.

From time to time, I have also been able to introduce a few period films that do not fall into the well-known clichés of depicting Spaniards as Catholic zealots (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), unredeemable villains (any film on Queen Elizabeth I), or sympathetic drunkards tormented by a six-fingered man and fantasies of revenge (I am looking at you, Íñigo Montoya!).

I am always on the lookout for activities that might alter the pace of the semester and create an opportunity for students to experience some of the class contents in a more distended and relaxed atmosphere. The buzzword here is “experiential learning.” We have heard it often, and you might have dismissed it as another fad in academia, but this is something we have been doing all along.

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