Seminar to provide ideas

By Julie Listek

Teachers and professors will be able to learn teaching techniques through culture at NIU’s “New Ideas in History and New Ideas in English Conference” Friday.

The seminar, which will be on Friday, Oct. 18 at 9 a.m. in the Holmes Student Center, is sponsored by NIU’s history and English departments, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and College of Continuing Education.

“The seminar is designed to create interdisciplinary events that illustrate and demonstrate bonds between the fields of English and history,” said Deborah Booth, coordinator in College of Continuing Education.

Booth said the seminar is structured to give grade school, high school, and community college English and history teachers the chance to learn about new teaching techniques through culture.

Tori Haring-Smith, a member of both the English and theater departments at Brown University, will address the issue, “What we really teach: Examining values and pedagogy.”

Other speakers include historians Samuel Blackwell, Samuel Kinser and Jordan Schwartz; English department faculty members David Barrow, Parker Johnson, John V. Knapp and Charles Pennel; NIU’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies director Michael Aung-Thwin; and art Professor Richard Cooler.

Using unique techniques, each speaker will lecture on a different topic. Johnson’s topic is “Writing Everyday: Exercises for Classrooms in all Disciplines.”

Johnson said he feels there are many different examples to perform in a classroom and the teacher should use them to encourage active learning.

“I want to encourage teachers to use writing in classrooms instead of the traditional term paper,” he said.

Kinser will follow a different way of teaching new ideas. He will describe the images of two ordinary people that lived between 1500 and 1700. Using the roles of a masker in carnival time and street venders selling furniture and old clothes, he will describe what normal everyday life was like.

Kinser said he wants to show how to broaden concepts of social life in the past.

Aung-Thwin will address a different aspect of the topic, speaking on “Asia Through Fiction: A Seminar in the Use of Indigenous Literature and Translation.”

“I hope to educate the participants on how to teach their students about Asia, using fictional books and poems translated into English rather than text books,” he said. “This is just an alternative way to teach about the country the student is studying that is not often done.”

The seminar, which is open to the public for a fee, is coordinated by freshman English Director Robert Self and History Department Chairman George Spencer.