(EPCHS note: This semester, EPCHS launched an internship program meant to give students an opportunity to work in an archive and obtain professional experience that will prepare them for the marketplace. This is the first blog post in a series authored by one of our interns from the history department at UTEP about her experiences here.)
History, hmm, what comes to mind when we hear the word? When I was tutoring at a central El Paso High School in the Spring of 2017, this is what I asked my first student at our initial meeting. She, a lovely young senior girl with a penchant for dramatic ‘Barbie Doll ‘ makeup, looked at me blankly, slowly batting the longest, most perfectly separated lashes and said, ‘I don’t know, it doesn’t mean anything to me’. After asking her to think about who she was and who paved the way for her family to be here now – she seemed to grasp the connectivity of ‘then and now’. I considered this as a great breakthrough, an inroad to drawing my jaded future cosmologist into an appreciation for old, dusty, forgotten memories of days long gone, and how they have shaped our familial lives, institutions, work, play, food consumption and education on the local level. That is what I’ve noticed is missing in many of our history classes…the local relevance that makes the student feel as if they belong to the larger story.
One of the changes I (MEd/History graduate student, UTEP) hope to bring during my brief stint here at the El Paso County Historical Society, is the enticement and inclusion into this organization of more young people like my student. For the record, my talented face painter became my favorite go-to as the example to the many others who joined our tutoring group during the semester. Her grasp of the organization needed for effective note-taking, legible writing, critical-thinking and testing strategies rivaled her skills for contouring, highlighting, lip-lining, and brow definition. This is what we call prior-knowledge application and scaffolding of learning components. Also known as a history and make-up synthesis application. ~PJA