A Response to "Crossing Borders: Disciplines, Cultures, and Histories"
by Dr. Craig A. Lockard, UWGB
Dr. Lockard has provided us with much to ruminate not least of which is how to teach students of world history to navigate the border crossings he has outlined. World history surveys involve teaching wide swaths of history or histories of diverse communities. Cultures, civilizations, societies, and their interactions at times fly by in increments of multiple millennia in one week. As teachers, instructors, and professors we must, as Dr. Lockard points out, be mindful of our audience, the temporarily captive collection of people from our own communities. The diversity of cultures in the classroom at Metropolitan State University, where I am a member of the Department of History, continuously grows and changes with the immigration trends of the Twin Cities, and I am pleasantly astounded by how American students of disparate backgrounds interact. In one semester of my world history class (History 103, "World History I: Patterns of Civilizations to 1500") a Muslim student explained customs surrounding Mecca, the Kaaba and Black Stone, to name just one example of how students can cross borders within the classroom and may be some of the "green shoots of hope" Dr. Lockard seeks.
Green shoots, of course, require careful cultivation and the soil in which they grow is never unvarying; American students come from all places and backgrounds. "Where life and learning meet" is the motto of Metropolitan State University. Balancing life and learning replicates the balance world history instructors must strike between breadth and depth. I personally try to strike both balances by promoting disciplinary rigor as a trellis for green shoots and allowing students to add their experiences as nourishment in the pursuit of historical study. By cultivating students' skills in analyzing historical contextualization, students can develop themselves as critical-thinking individuals of acumen and conscience who can decide how to move from the past to the future.