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Posted January 25, 2013
History teacher, Mr. Di Giacomo, has put an impressive amount research and thought in answering the question posed by the title. Mr.
Di Giacomo offers in his guide to teachers an approach to the learning of history that holds the promise of reaching the disenchanted kids who raise the question that is the title of his work, a title that is answered in the text. I hope that it catches on. If it does, the potential consequence is in itself mind blowing. My occupation as a clinical psychologist brings me into regular contact with adolescents who are struggling with parents and others over their grades. One of the disconcerting things for me in this is the number of kids who hold school and formal education in contempt. It is not unusual for me to be told by these young folks that the only reason that they go to school is to see their friends. They confront me with the question that is the title of Richard Di Giacomo's teachers guide for history. This is saddening to me. The fundamental job of the brain is to learn. And it loves to learn; it thrives on learning, and here are these bright kid talking about hating it. But they don't really hate it at all. They talk of hating memorizing and yet they can tell you all about such things as the prominent figures in the music of their genre and have memorized the lyrics of songs which often the more adult ear often hears as unintelligible. They don't think of this as learning. They think of it as music - but learning it is. In college, my classmates and I found ourselves in the company of a gifted professor of history who used the methods espoused by Mr. DiGiacomo in his guide to accomplish what I had considered to be impossible - he taught me and most if not all of the others lucky enough to be in his classroom to love history. I will always be gratefully indebted to that learned gentleman. He not only taught me to love history. He caused me to understand that there is a basic joy in all learning beyond which I had fully understood.
Colin R. Wright, Ph.D.