Studying History

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Studying History

Post by High Dependency Unit »

I'm working on becoming a history/geography specialist and, although I think I've got a basic grasp of the high school canon already, I'm not sure how to move forward in studying history. Right now I've just been reading NHBB packets. Are there better and possibly more interesting ways to study?
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Re: Studying History

Post by Tanay »

geolawyerman wrote:Right now I've just been reading NHBB packets. Are there better and possibly more interesting ways to study?
It seems like most ways of studying would be more interesting than this. Definitely check out this thread (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=8159), in which people discuss interesting books that helped them get better. Besides the obvious benefits (learning things, not being bored, engaging with well-written literature), you'd be helped additionally as someone who claims to be familiar already with the answer space in high school. Being able to put potential answerlines in historical and social context is a fantastic way of winnowing down potential answer choices very quickly when you're listening to a question that probably only has a few possible answers at high school difficulty (such as tossups on Ottoman sultans or medieval French kings).
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Re: Studying History

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Read things. "Things" can certainly include NHBB packets, and packets in general, but should not be limited to them.
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Re: Studying History

Post by Al Hirt »

I played with a lot of upperclassmen who could fraud very well because of quiz bowl experience my first year, so one series I would definitely recommend is Susan Wise Bauer's History of the World series, especially if your grip on ancient/medieval isn't that great just yet. It's terrific stuff and makes you very well versed in that kind of stuff. I guess if you have a USH/WH textbook read through that too, depending on the person you are, you might enjoy it. Also, watch the Presidents series on History Channel if you haven't already, I've been able to power questions due to some of the randomly interested details mentioned there.

(Disclaimer: by no means am I an expert on qb's history, but I do enjoy the subject)
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Re: Studying History

Post by samus149 »

A friend of mine spent a few months going through Europe: A History by Norman Davies, which he said was good if you want a general overview. Also good if you want some ancient history knowledge is The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon which, despite its controversies, is probably the best source of information on that time period.
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Re: Studying History

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling »

samus149 wrote:A friend of mine spent a few months going through Europe: A History by Norman Davies, which he said was good if you want a general overview. Also good if you want some ancient history knowledge is The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon which, despite its controversies, is probably the best source of information on that time period.
I disagree with the statement about Gibbon. A modern scholar like Adrian Goldsworthy is far superior to Gibbon in teaching the ins and outs of classical history.
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Re: Studying History

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

You're about to enter high school, I take it; a great way to develop a "backbone" of history knowledge at the high school level (which you can then use to make clues and tidbits make more sense in context) is to take history classes seriously, remember things you studied in class, and read the textbooks, going beyond assigned portions and looking at glossaries/the index when possible to retain information on something you learned about through the game. I got my start as a history player through a relatively intense AP-de-facto Euro history class and AP US History; consider taking those strongly if your school offers them.
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Re: Studying History

Post by High Dependency Unit »

I got my start as a history player through a relatively intense AP-de-facto Euro history class and AP US History; consider taking those strongly if your school offers them.
The problem with that is I'll probably know all the information the class covers by the time I can take AP Euro History and AP US History in junior year (I do have fast-paced general world history courses for the next two years, though, and I was planning on using the textbook as a quiz bowl study resource).
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Re: Studying History

Post by Banana Stand »

geolawyerman wrote:
I got my start as a history player through a relatively intense AP-de-facto Euro history class and AP US History; consider taking those strongly if your school offers them.
The problem with that is I'll probably know all the information the class covers by the time I can take AP Euro History and AP US History in junior year (I do have fast-paced general world history courses for the next two years, though, and I was planning on using the textbook as a quiz bowl study resource).
If that were true then why wouldn't you just take the AP tests before taking the courses? I doubt you'll know a full AP curriculum before taking the actual classes.
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Re: Studying History

Post by Matt Weiner »

Knowing temporal and causal relationships is a helpful and oft-overlooked facet of doing well at any category. There's simply no way to retain all the information you need to succeed at high-level quizbowl if everything is just a big pile of clue-answer associations that you don't understand. Not only will it be more difficult to motivate yourself to study if it's all memorizing meaningless words, you will also be at a disadvantage in recognizing contextual clues and have a lot of negs or missed buzzes that people with a greater comprehension of the material will capitalize on.

Again, this is true for all categories, but for history, it's probably ten times as crucial, because relationships of time, place, and cause-effect are what history is all about in a non-quizbowl sense. So, make sure you have some sort of overview of Chinese history before you start memorizing facts about Qin Shi Huang, and so on and so forth. Read overviews even if it doesn't seem like they go deep enough to teach you leadins--you need the foundation in order to be able to learn the deeper clues later in a way that will really help you.

Essentially all the points I got in my first two years of quizbowl were from reading this series of graphic novels: http://www.amazon.com/Cartoon-History-U ... 0385265204 . If you want to get someone from zero ("good student, never played quizbowl" is zero when it comes to the level we're talking about, remember that non-elite teams don't study things for the purpose of quizbowl) go get those. The next step is textbooks--stuff on the AP syllabus is a good suggestion for American history, but the AP courses on "Europe" and "the world" don't cover nearly the breadth or depth of these topics. Feel free to look up courses on "the history of France" or "Ancient Greece" or "the history of women in Europe" or "military history" or whatever approach you may wish to take that are taught at any name-brand university. and look at what the first thing on the syllabus is. Unfortunately, this is a little more difficult now that so many colleges use proprietary systems for electronic distribution of information, but there are still a great number of courses that list their syllabus on the open web, and you should be able to find one somewhere for any topic. The textbook listed for a 300-level course for undergrads is usually just right for giving you all you need to learn a topic through the NSC/HSNCT/NASAT level.

Then you're back to the same place you would be for any other category--write questions, look things up if you keep missing a particular topic, try to predict the next answer line or the next leadin.
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Re: Studying History

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Matt Weiner wrote:Knowing temporal and causal relationships is a helpful and oft-overlooked facet of doing well at any category. There's simply no way to retain all the information you need to succeed at high-level quizbowl if everything is just a big pile of clue-answer associations that you don't understand. Not only will it be more difficult to motivate yourself to study if it's all memorizing meaningless words, you will also be at a disadvantage in recognizing contextual clues and have a lot of negs or missed buzzes that people with a greater comprehension of the material will capitalize on.

Again, this is true for all categories, but for history, it's probably ten times as crucial, because relationships of time, place, and cause-effect are what history is all about in a non-quizbowl sense. So, make sure you have some sort of overview of Chinese history before you start memorizing facts about Qin Shi Huang, and so on and so forth. Read overviews even if it doesn't seem like they go deep enough to teach you leadins--you need the foundation in order to be able to learn the deeper clues later in a way that will really help you.
This is why I doubt it's possible to know the entire curriculum of a class like AP US History before taking it - a lot of contextual information and knowledge of trends and figures will just not be there. Furthermore, I definitely don't think it's a good idea educationally to think that buzzing well on history-the-quizbowl-category is a valid reason to skip out on courses that teach the facts and methods of history-the-discipline.
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Re: Studying History

Post by High Dependency Unit »

Look, I realize that I'm not going to necessarily know the full curriculum of the AP class. I just don't think that it will provide me with a ton of quiz bowl worthy information after I study history for the next two years (and I am reading general history books right now, so I'm getting the relationships between things-I don't want to fake knowledge). Also, does anyone have any resources to suggest that have to do with Asian history?
Michael Borecki
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Re: Studying History

Post by Al Hirt »

geolawyerman wrote:Look, I realize that I'm not going to necessarily know the full curriculum of the AP class. I just don't think that it will provide me with a ton of quiz bowl worthy information after I study history for the next two years (and I am reading general history books right now, so I'm getting the relationships between things-I don't want to fake knowledge). Also, does anyone have any resources to suggest that have to do with Asian history?
For Fun: if you like foreign films there's a ton of stuff in that regard. The Last Emperor is a terrific transition between modern day China and ancient China (also won something like 9 Oscars and is in both English and Mandarin), but if you have some free time I'd look into the plethora of foreign films that exist about Ancient Asia (though this helps mostly with China and occasionally Japan).
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Re: Studying History

Post by gerbilownage »

Matt Weiner wrote: Essentially all the points I got in my first two years of quizbowl were from reading this series of graphic novels: http://www.amazon.com/Cartoon-History-U ... 0385265204 .
OMG Matt I thought I was the only one! Their Chinese history is especially good, although no high school and even many college sets dont go into as much depth as the Cartoon History into Robert the Weasel or Lu-Pu-Wei.
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Re: Studying History

Post by kievanrustic »

Also, does anyone have any resources to suggest that have to do with Asian history?
One great book that I have been reading of late is After Tamerlane by John Darwin. As its title would suggest, it covers primarily Eurasian history after the death of Tamerlane in the early 15th century. What I really like about this book is the fact that it doesn't spend an inordinate amount of time on Western European history as some books seem to do. After Tamerlane assumes that one has a decent grasp on Eurasian history, but this helps one not be bogged down by the repetitive facts that seems to come up in most history books. This book is a great resource for Middle Eastern, Indian subcontinent, East Asian, and Russian history from 1400-recent history.

As an added note, it's perfectly possible (although maybe not probable) that one may know most of what is covered in AP history courses without taking such courses. With a solid amount of reading history, I can't see how one would not be able to understand both the facts and the context of the facts that are taught in a typical AP history course. Personally, I recently took the AP Euro course primarily off of knowledge gained via quizbowl studying and reading history for personal betterment and fun. Considering that the free response essays in the AP history tests test whether one understands the context of what they are writing about, I can't see how I felt confident writing in AP Euro if I didn't understand the context of history despite not taking the course.

Edit:changed "are ought" to "seem"
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Re: Studying History

Post by geowzrd »

I've found that while it does help to be a good generalist, it can also help if you specialize in a particular era, such as Ancient, Medieval, U.S., Modern, etc. I don't know why, but I've somehow found non-European names and events easier to memorize, probably due to the fact that non-western history isn't really covered until AP World history (that and names like Ataturk, Suleiman the Magnificent, and Mansa Musa are cool sounding).
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