About Your Instructor
Chiemi Ma was born in Tokyo, Japan and was raised in Japan, Korea, and the island of Okinawa (Japan), including ports of call in Guam, the Philippines, Wake, Midway, and Hawaii. She has travelled through Asia, the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Humanities (Interdisciplinary), with concentrations in history, literature, and music from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Originally trained as a classical pianist, her past teaching experiences in both the music and scholastic disciplines, combined with her extensive travels, has led her to share her passion for history with an interdisciplinary perspective.
How I teach
HIST&146 at Cascadia is an online class; You are expected to read the textbook. Do not expect me to rehash your textbook readings in posts or through podcast lectures; however, I am very happy to explain points that confuses one or discuss topics that are of interest to each of my students at any time. I do have expectations that each of you will use other resources to supplement your study of U.S. history. For more specific details on assignments and the academic expectations I have of my students, please read the course syllabus. My role as your instructor is to help you succeed, but the responsibility for dialogue rests with each of you. We will be most successful as a class if each of you commits to frequent communication with each other in your small groups and (especially) with me.
Developing Historical Mindedness
In addition to your awareness of human behavior, you must develop what has been termed historical mindedness. Historian Carl G Gustavson, in his A Preface to History, described the nature and processes of historical mindedness. Basically, the nature of historical mindedness is a certain maturity of perspective stimulated by curiosity. Gustavson analyzes the nature of historical mindedness in five points:
- Read between the lines.
- See social forces in action.
- Recognize the complexity of causation in an episode.
- Recognize strands of continuity.
- Understand the relevance of the past to the present.
By developing this perspective, a student of history has the tools to avoid oversimplification in his or her analyses of past events. In other words, one need not think in terms of a single cause explanation, moral absolutes (good-bad; black-white), or the "Great Man Theory" (when one is tempted to credit a significant social event to one individual). The mature student realizes that society is constantly undergoing the process of change and that present problems have their origins in the past. Yes, there are individuals who seem larger than life, yet one must view them within the context of the social forces of their times. Although there are many comparisons to be made, each event in our history is unique: history does not repeat itself.
How, you may ask, will these lofty ideals help sort out the dizzying array of data inherent in a history course? Here are some hints:
- Build an outline.
- Ask yourself questions.
- Learn by making associations.
- Distinguish and separate important statements from the general.
- Extrapolate underlying causes of events from important statements.
- Understand the profound importance of social forces.
Gustavson's thesis is that the past is in the present. He compares the study of history to the study of geology. There are layers of sediments and outcroppings of rocks. There is evidence of violent cataclysmic geologic events as well as gradual accumulation or erosion of land. So, too, do we navigate through social and cultural landscapes of rituals, holidays, institutions, the arts, and even clothing and cuisine.