∞ Reading Primary Sources

Ben Myers writing on reading and teaching primary sources says, 

I’ve also come to believe in the importance of reading through whole books together, not just excerpts. Anthologies of primary sources have their place. But after using them in some of my classes, I began to notice that the principles of selection tend to obviate the educational benefits of primary sources. The contemporary anthologist will select a passage on atonement from Athanasius, since we all know already that atonement” is a noteworthy topic. But anthologists will omit all that weird stuff in Athanasius about the martyrs; and they will certainly omit all that offensive stuff about the Jews. Yet it is precisely in the weird and the offensive material that students have the opportunity to observe the author’s unspoken assumptions at work. And it is by struggling to account for the author’s blind spots that students achieve — or at least have the opportunity to achieve — a certain critical distance from their own blind spots.

∞ Read the whole thing here

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July 1, 2014