1.1—Introduction & Note-taking (16 min video)
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Please read the intro in the Teacher’s Guide before beginning.
The following transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors in spelling and/or grammar. It is provided for assistance in note-taking and review.
Well, welcome. In this very first lesson, I want to welcome you to Dave Raymond, that’s myself, to my American History series. Over the next 13 lessons, which each have 5 lectures, I hope to take you through the beginnings of American history. I hope to explain to you really the foundations and the roots behind what became the United States. And so to do that, we’re gonna actually take a look at people like the Puritans. We’re gonna take a look at the Explorers. We’re gonna take a look at the various Wars of Control, like the French and Indian War, as it’s come to be known in our history. But before we even begin that, I wanna talk briefly about what you’re gonna be seeing throughout this curriculum. First of all, I hope you’re gonna see that this is a story-driven curriculum. I want you to learn the great stories of the past. I want you to have visual references to see these things, both in your mind’s eye, but also on the screen. The nice thing about this, because it’s video, is that you can actually see places I’m talking about. You can see portraits of people we’re going to be discussing. You’ll even be able to see various artworks that illustrate some of the ideas that we talk about. It’s one of the great advantages that we have with video. But another distinctive about this curriculum is we’re really gonna be trying to do what we call moral philosophy. In other words, we’re not just gonna take a look at history being an idea that something happened and then something else happened and then something else happened beyond that because that’s kind of dull. What we really want to do here is we want to see how culture has changed. We want to see how ideas have been brought forth and how those ideas have actually impacted the way that people live. After all, all of our culture, all of our events, all the choices that we make, they’re based upon what we believe. It’s what we call worldview. And so when we take a look at history, we’re always going to be examining the motives of people. We’re always going to be examining, “Okay, what drove this guy or what drove this group of people to do what they actually did?” So I hope you begin to see that through this. Now, my name, as I already said, is Dave Raymond, and I’ll be guiding you through this. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m married. I have a beautiful wife named Danielle. And I have four children named Peter, Lucy, and Benaiah. They’re one of the mighty men of the Old Testament, one of David’s mighty men. and also my youngest son Owen. And we live in beautiful Franklin, Tennessee. And so you might hear me make a few references to Tennessee in terms of American history throughout time. I’m a little bit partial to the role of the volunteers throughout American history. In fact, my students I teach locally, I teach them an entire lesson just on Tennessee history, which is rich with incredible warrior stories and incredible foundation or settlement stories that I love to tell.
But before I even get into all of those things when we talk about American history, I wanna tell you a little bit about why I have come to love history.
Why it is that I have taught history for so many years and why I’ve taught it to so many different students. And really to explain that, I have to take you back to my education, back to the time when I was your age. And I can look back on history. I remember when I studied it in school, it was always called social studies. And essentially what we talked about was we talked about where nations were and maybe what they exported and what they imported and what their terrain looked like.
It was rather dull. But every now and then, I would have an experience. I remember in sixth grade having a teacher who all she really did for history for us was she had a little book of famous American stories.
And they were well-told stories. They actually had a plot. They actually had characters. And they often had surprise endings, but they were completely based upon real information, upon real events. And so that was the first time the lights kind of came on that there’s actually a story here. There’s actually something here that is very inspiring. But even so, that was a quick and a brief exposure to real history. It wasn’t until my high school days when I had some incredible teachers of history, of the things of the past, that once again, I would say the lights began to come on for me.
In fact, it’s quite interesting. I’d always been taught that if you look at the scriptures, you can clearly see God at work. You clearly see Him talking to people. You clearly see Him ordaining events. You clearly see him making things happen, like in the Red Sea Crossing, or the crossing of the Jordan River, or the victory over Jericho, for example.
I was also taught, of course, that in the modern era, God still works. God still speaks to us, primarily through his scriptures, but he still is provident and sovereign over all that happens. The problem was is that until I hit my high school years, no one had ever shown me how God was actually sovereign and provident over everything that happened between the scriptures and everything that occurs now.
And what’s amazing about my high school experience and about the history here as I had then, was they were able to show how there was a constant theme of redemption throughout all of history.
Coming right after the apostles and acts, going all through the era of the medievals, going all throughout the Reformation, throughout the foundings of America, right up to the present day.
Nothing has actually happened by chance because God actually ordains every single event. He truly is provident. And I always found that to be an amazing idea, and I still find it to be an amazing idea. It’s why I still teach history year after year, retelling the same stories, discovering new tales, discovering new events, exploring new characters and so forth, things I had never had the time to before, because I find that it always tells one great story.
It tells the story of how God has actually redeemed us. As far as the story we’re gonna be covering in this semester and the second semester as well, the story of American history, I want you to really see this as an extension of what we call Christendom.
Christendom is a term that’s often been used to describe the medieval era, but properly speaking, Christendom is a term we use to describe the church. It’s a term that we use to describe all of those nations, all of those people groups who love Christ and who actually want to worship Him and who actually pursue Him and what is true and what is beautiful and what is good.
And so American history really is an extension of that because it was founded by believers. So when we take a look at American history, we’re going to see it really is a story of the gospel. It really is a story of how redemption has moved westward through those American colonies founded upon the Eastern seaboard and eventually spread their way all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
But because it’s also founded by fallen men, like you, like myself, we’re also going to see that American history is a tale of sinners. In other words, anytime we approach one of these characters you have to keep in mind that a man like George Washington or a man like Sam Adams, for example, as great as they were and as amazing as the things that they did were, These are men who were fallen creatures.
These were men who did not always do right. And in fact, often the way that we see how they handled sin, often the way that we see how they confess sin and pursue the redemption of Christ, that often teaches us more than what they actually accomplished that was so heroic in this world.
Now let me read for you a poem that’ll help us understand a little bit about this. It’s called “Flawless His Heart” by an old American author, James Russell Lowe. He said this, “Flawless his heart and temper to the core, who beckoned by the forward-leaning wave, first left behind him the firm-footed shore, and urged by every nerve of sail and oar, steered for the unknown which gods to mortals gave, of thought and action the mysterious door.
Bugbear of fools, a summons to the brave, strength found he in the unsympathizing sun, and strange stars from beneath the horizon won, and the dumb ocean pitilessly grave.
High-hearted, surely he, but bolder they who first offcast their moorings from the habitable past and ventured chartless on the sea of storm-engendering liberty. For all earth’s width of waters is a span, and there convulse existence mere repose, mashed with the unstable heart of man. Shoreless and once, misgurt and all it knows, opened every wind of sector clan, and sudden passion it ebbs and flows.” Now if you’re a bit confused as to why I read that or even what that’s about, that’s okay. I just want you to take a moment to let it sink in. You can even go back and re-watch that section or you can look it up online. The poem again is “Flawless as Heart” by James Russell Lau. But the point of this is that James Russell Lau, who’s speaking about those American founders, those who essentially left everything behind, came over to these shores and eventually risked everything they’d established here for the sake of liberty and independence in that great year of 1776. He points out that while you have incredible and noble passions, you also have the passions of a fallen heart. You also have the passions of a heart that seems to never be content no matter how much it gains in this world. So American history is peculiar in this. We’ve been given so much. We have such incredible wealth, unlike any other nation or any other kingdom or any other empire throughout all of history. And really the lesson of that is, is that we always have to remember that there is not our contentment. There is not our salvation. So American history always brings us back to who Christ is. Always brings us back to, it’s in him that our actual hope is. Now before we end this little lecture of introduction, I want to do one primary thing. I want to go over with you how to take notes. After all, there’s going to be five lectures for every lesson. And in each of these short lectures, you’re going to need to take notes. You’re going to need to diligently write what it is that I’m telling you. Not word for word. I don’t want you to transcribe everything that I tell you. That’s not necessary, nor would that be helpful. But what you do need to learn is how do you record the most important information. So if you haven’t already begun taking notes, I want you to do so right now. Pull out that paper, pull out that pen or pencil, and begin to write. In fact, we’ll call this section “How to Take Notes.” Now the first thing I want to tell you about taking notes, and it’s something that you’ll see in every single one of the lessons that I give you this year, is there’s always a principle. In other words, usually the very first lecture video is going to be called “The Principle.” And the principle is always the main idea. It’s always the big picture for that week’s lesson that we’re going to be unpacking. In other words, no matter how much information we have, there’s always one standard idea that I really want you to take away. So you need to make certain you know what the principle is each week that you do this, or each lesson that you spend studying American history.
It’ll always primarily be there in the first lecture, but that main idea will be touched on in every single lecture that week, or every single lecture for that lesson.
So you need to always be thinking, have it written down of course what the principle is, but you need to always be thinking, “Why is Mr. Raymond teaching this to me?” “Why does he seem to make this idea, or make this person, or make this event important?” “Why is it necessary?” You should always be asking yourself that question of “Why?” I’m not teaching this to you just so you can spend time doing something. Or just so you can fulfill some kind of credit or some kind of requirement you have for your education. Sure, you have to take American History at some point or another, but that’s not why you’re doing it. Or at least, that’s not why you should be doing this. You should be doing this to actually know the wisdom of the past and to actually apply it in your life. So you always need to be asking yourself the question, “Why is this idea important? Why do we need to know about this person?” and then begin to answer those questions based upon what I tell you. Secondly, you have to understand that in each of these lectures, I’m just giving you basic information. In fact, each lecture has essentially a title, which you can see in the table of contents of your reader. But even so, you can’t just write down the title. You have to write down information that I give you. You need to be fleshing out this kind of bare-bone skeleton that is provided on that table of contents. In other words, write down not just who someone was and maybe their dates of when they lived, but you need to know why were they important?
What is it that motivated them? What did they believe? And of course, what did they do? How did they do it? When did they do it? Where did they do it? In other words, key people, key events, key dates, key places, and especially the ideas and the beliefs that motivated these people, those are absolutely essential.
You need to make certain you write those things down. Another thing you need to look out for is my pace. Sometimes I speed up, sometimes I slow down, sometimes I’ll repeat something in a different way, or I’ll simply slow down to emphasize a certain point. If I do that in these lectures, you better bet that I’m going to actually want you to know that information. You better write that down. And of course, you have the luxury of being able to pause this, of being able to take your time, of being able to go back and re-watch, to review what it is that I’ve actually taught you. You’re also going to find that there’s going to be occasions where I tell you a story. The story might be short, the story might be long. If it’s a long story, you’re probably not going to be able to write down everything that happened in the story. And so what you need to do is you need to practice the art of summarizing. You need to be able to take a famous story, for example, say the story of Noah and the flood. And instead of writing down everything that happened in that story, which is told in Genesis, you figure out, okay, what were the key ideas?
Well, when you talk about the wickedness of the earth, when you talk about how God chose Noah, and how God spoke to Noah and commanded him to build an ark, and how he commanded him to take on board his family and the animals who came two by two, when you talk about how long maybe it took to build the ark, talk about how the flood actually happened, maybe how long it occurred, and what happened afterwards and so forth.
In other words, when you’re telling a story like that in your notes, you’re not gonna be able to get down all of the details. You need to figure out what are the most important ideas? How can I remember this story? And what you can do, of course, is after writing down the summary of the story, you can go back and write it down again.
But most of all, when it comes to taking notes, you need to write. And you need to write some more, and you need to write even more than that. In other words, if your hand is not cramped by the end of one of these lectures, or by the end of an entire lesson, especially if you do it all in one day, then you’re probably not writing down enough. In other words, get down as much information as you can, because it will serve you well later. Treat this like a great feast, and you want to gather as much of it onto your plate as you can, even if you don’t necessarily use all of it or eat all of it in this example, but you want to have it there in case it becomes handy, whether it be in this year of your studies or in a future year.
Finally, make certain that you review your notes. One of the best things about note-taking is to go back and to re-read them. It’s really helpful to go back over them, say, five to ten minutes a day each week, just to kind of see where you’ve been, kind of remember the various ideas and people and events. Anyway, we’ll talk more about the study of history in the next lesson.