1.1—Introduction & Note-taking (23 min video)
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.
Welcome to the Study of Modernity or Modern History. I’m Dave Raymond. You’ll be seeing a lot of me through these videos as we take a look at, uh, the modern era of history. Aren’t you gonna be starting a lot sooner than we might think? We’re gonna be starting a lot sooner than say the 20th century, cuz a lot of roots, a lot of big ideas we need to unpack, but we’ll talk about that much more later. In this very first lecture, it’s kind of intro. I wanna kind of introduce the, the topic of history to you specifically, why I enjoy this topic, this subject. And I also want to give you some really basic skills in note taking. After all, this is a lecture class. I’m gonna be teaching you, uh, through stories, through events, through people, through famous dates and things like that. There’s gonna be a lot to write down. It’s gonna take some diligence, take some work on your part. Uh, but that’s something that we need to go over and kind of discuss. How do you actually record notes? Well, how do you actually listen and kind of figure out what to write down, uh, in, in your notes and on your, on the page and so forth.
And a lot of that is kind of trial and error. Uh, with my students, I’m often having to take a look at what they’ve actually written down and actually coach them based upon what they actually look at. So in your case, you’ll be needing to, uh, go to one of your parents or go to, uh, perhaps you have a teacher, an administrator who’s kind of or facilitator that is, who’s kind of giving you these lessons. You’ll need to maybe check with them about taking notes. But often you’re writing down what, uh, what you think is the most important. But nothing about that. We’ll talk about that in a moment. We need to take a look at first is kind of, well, what I wanna share with you that is, is why I actually love history.
Now, there are many reasons why I have enjoyed this subject and why it’s kind of become, uh, my favorite thing to teach to my students amongst other subjects. But one of the primary reasons is just for the delight of it. In fact, there’s this curious theme, uh, in The Magician’s nephew by CS Lewis, one of the Chronicles of Narnia, in which, uh, the characters of Polly Andre, who are the two main characters of that story, if you know it, uh, they’re actually flying over Narnia, which has just been created on fledge, who is the horse that now has wings and is carrying them on a mission as a part of the, the main plot of that story.
But at one point, they look down upon the new land of Narnia, and I can’t remember if it’s poly or degree that makes the remark, I actually think it’s poly. Uh, but she points out how they’re looking at a land that of course is beautiful, a land that has all of these things that are new and things to be discovered.
But she notices that it’s the land that doesn’t yet have stories. The incredible thing about our world, uh, with its age and with all the people who have gone before us, is that wherever you look, there are stories that happen there.
It’s something that we probably don’t really stop to think of. We’re, we’re such busy people that we don’t really stop to think about the fact that where we live, where we walk, where we go out to shop, where we go out to eat, and things like that.
Uh, things have actually happened there. Not, not just in those buildings that are there now, but, but on that land or buildings that these are prior to there. Now this actually reminds me of sometimes I’ll pick up a book of, uh, maybe the town I live in, which is Franklin. Well, I used to live in Franklin, Tennessee, but I’ll think about that, that town there. And I’ll often pick up pictures to show me what it once looked like. And it’s always an interesting exercise cuz it always kind of reminds you of, oh yes, there were people who had concerns like we do. There were people who had passions and dreams like we do, who actually lived here once before us, Ben House, who’s a, a modern day educator and loves the study of history as well. He talks about part of the purpose of history in this way. In fact, let me share this quote with you. He says, the grammar of history is skeletal. Now we all have skeletons inside us, but they do not define who we are. We are flesh in blood, or better yet, soul and spirit with flesh and blood, even at the grammar level, even with learning the facts on the history card, history must be taught as stories.
In other words, rough looking at what actually happened here in the past. Now, I wish I could tell you just stories all the time. We have to take a look at major ideas. We have to take a look at things like basic facts and basic information. You have to know that that is the skeleton of history. But he’s right, the flesh and blood of, of history, those things, that’s, that’s made up of stories. In fact, he ends the quote by saying, the goal of teaching history is always the same. It’s romance. And he doesn’t mean romance in terms of what we usually think of romance. And what he means by romance goes back to say the idea of Rome. It goes back to this idea of actually loving something of actually pouring yourself into something. That’s what I love about history. I’ve often found, I’ve also found in terms of the love of history, that it is really provides an incredible hope. In fact, I hope I communicate to you a hopeful view of history. And, uh, that’s something that I’ve really been reminded of as I have filmed these lectures that you’re about to watch on modernity. Uh, we’re taking a look at a time period that can be quite dark. Uh, we’re taking a look at a time period, uh, that has a lot of evil, has a lot of, uh, maturation of that. Evil has a lot of, uh, a lot of things that, uh, we don’t often like to consider or think about too much. Uh, but the incredible thing about history and even about the maturation of evil is you also see, uh, the growing maturity of the church.
You also see the growing maturity of the gospel. In fact, uh, I think what I hope I communicate to you as we take a look at some of these darker periods of history is that none of these things cannot be redeemed.
Uh, and none of these things are, are beyond something that can be fixed. Uh, in fact, um, it often reminds me of Psalm 76 10, a versatile use when we talk about World War ii. Uh, that says that even the wrath of man praises God, in other words, even in the darkness, you will find things that show that God is actually in control and he works them together, uh, for the good of his people.
That’s a hopeful view of history. Uh, that’s something that has given me, uh, a great pause over the years as I take a look at these things. That’s something that gives me great confidence, uh, not because it’s something that’s in me or something that’s in the people that we look at, but something that goes beyond us. Something that actually transcends us. So what I normally do with students in the very first lecture when I have them in a classroom, is I usually ask them, what intrigues you about this, this little subject we call history or what intrigues you about the study of the past?
Sometimes they, they point out, uh, perhaps a certain time period or a certain thing that they’re interested in history. I usually have at least one guy that points out he loves a study of weaponry for some reason in history. Uh, or somebody that points out, well, I just love 1960s and seventies music, whatever it is. Um, but I, I encourage you be thinking about that. Why are you doing this class? Now, the simple answer may be because you’re being forced to. Um, but I want you to actually think beyond that. In fact, that’s gonna be my challenge throughout, uh, not just today’s lecture, but especially throughout the lesson I’m giving you this first week, is why are you doing this class beyond, I have to, after all, history is not one of those things that you typically have to know a lot of to, uh, get a job and make money.
And it’s of course, you’re like a history teacher like me. But, uh, I want you to challenge, I wanna challenge you actually to think beyond that, why we’re actually doing these things. I’ll give you that to think on, uh, for now. But we’re gonna take the rest of this lecture today, uh, to talk about how to take notes. And like I said, this really is, uh, a skill and also a bit of an art form. I’m gonna try to give you some general pointers, uh, but you’ll probably need to get some advice if you don’t already have experience in this area. Uh, many of you already do. Perhaps you’ve already taken, uh, previous classes of mine, and so you kind of know, uh, know the ropes, so to speak, but all the same.
Let me give you some few basic tips. Number one, uh, you always wanna be looking for what’s the main idea. In fact, in all of the lessons I give you, there will always be a principle, a main idea, and I try to weave it in throughout the content and the stories throughout the week.
It doesn’t always work out that well, uh, but all the same. I want you to be constantly thinking, okay, what is the point? What is, uh, the main thing that I need to be thinking on or writing down? In fact, that’s really the question we ask anytime that we study anything. Uh, why are we doing this? What’s the point of knowing this? What’s the point of learning this? And no, it’s not just some conspiracy of teachers to make you do something. I mean, it really doesn’t go beyond that. The reason why we pass on things like say, history or things like a love of the classics, for example, is because these things are thought worthy of being, passing of being passed on because they explain in some way or another what it means to be human.
Now they explain in some way or another what it means to be made in the image of God and also what it means to be fallen.
That’s really at the heart of all that your teachers are passing on to you and especially say in the study of the past. Uh, secondly, uh, whenever it comes to taking notes, you’re gonna be kind of making your own basic outline in your notes. Uh, one way you can do this is you can make what’s called a three point outline. Uh, so for example, usually start with Roman numerals for the major ideas, the, the big things that are being talked about, uh, throughout a lecture or a lesson.
So say for example, one of the big things we were talking about was the Battle of the Bulge. You might represent that with Roman numeral one, for example. Well then as we’re unpacking that story, I may give you, uh, I may open up with the setting of why that was actually happening. Maybe I’ll even open up with the fact, uh, that the Americans were cut off in that actual battle. So we might make that with the capital letter A, we might write, Americans were cut off, they were surrounded at Basto and something like that.
And then underneath that, we might write another detail, uh, perhaps represented by the number one that talks about the resistance of the paratroopers who were actually in Basto and the resistance of the American general, who, when the Nazis told him he was surrounded and that he was surely going to, uh, to perish if he fought on, he simply replied with the word nuts to the Germans who were completely confused by it.
Uh, but all the same. When you’re taking notes, you don’t necessarily have to follow that kind of a formulaic pattern. But one thing I’ll tell you, the big tips, uh, that I I tell my students often with taking notes is, what you don’t want is you don’t want a giant brick of text on your paper. Uh, you don’t want this thing, this kind of just a jumble of words on the paper. In fact, what you want is you either wanna skip lines between points or you want to bullet point different points, or you want to indent.
In fact, I use indenting a lot to kind of, uh, to kind of show that this point goes underneath this bigger point here, or this detail of the story goes under this bigger detail of the story over here.
In fact, I should probably point out as well, uh, you probably know this already, but when you take notes, do not try to write down everything the teacher says.
It only frustrates you. You won’t be po, it won’t be possible. Now, I guess for you all, you can just kind of pause me or you can slow down my voice and hear me in some kind of, uh, really low, creepy voice.
Um, but that’s really not gonna serve you well. It’s just going to be distraction. In other words, figure out, okay, what really matters here? What do I really need to write down? What do I really need to record? And then once you get those main ideas down, add the details, flesh out the skeleton of the main things I’ve given you a third, a third tip that is in taking notes. Uh, follow my pace as best as you can. I try to consider what is it that I’m really emphasizing? What is it that I seem to kind of keep coming back to? And, uh, and, and slowing down on and repeating in different ways over and over and over again. Those are the things that really need to be recorded. Those are the things that really need to be remembered. And identifying those things takes experience. Identifying those things takes, uh, takes time. Uh, so don’t worry if you don’t have it right away. That will come in time. That comes with maturity. Uh, sometimes it takes, uh, days or weeks. Sometimes it takes months or years. It differs for different people. Uh, number four, because this is a history class, you do need to record key information. Like you do need to know, for example, who with the Churchill was, or you do need to know, for example, what the French Revolution was.
Or you do need to know, for example, certain key dates that I may give you, such as 1939 with the beginning of World War II or things like that.
We need to know certain key places, uh, like what happened. For example, at, uh, the Battle Trap Garden. It’s a key place and a key event. Uh, you also need to be looking for things like key ideas. So I’m talking about something like humanism, for example. You’ll need to know what is that. You’ll need to have some kind of basic definition for it. Or can we talk about nationalism? And I’ll give you a definition for it and I’ll talk about it in lots of different ways. But you’ll need to actually record down what are the main ideas here? What’s the main definition of this? They gimme in your own words. You can use my words. Whatever works for you. You just need make sure that you’re actually recording down precise information and not just a lot of general ideas that don’t really give you any details. Uh, history is both the details and the big ideas at the same time. We need to keep those together. Uh, number five, and this is a little trickier, you need to figure out a way to record stories. Now, a lot of times the temptation is to try to record every bit of a story, uh, that I may give. Uh, the problem is you usually don’t have the time for it. Uh, the other problem is it’s usually just too much to actually write down. So you kind of summarize the story. Perhaps you’ve practiced, uh, shortening narratives before. In fact, that’s one of the, the great, uh, writing practices that’s done of old is can, can we give you a long story and can you summarize it? Uh, in short, you’ve probably done an assignment like that, or maybe you haven’t, but I hope you have. Uh, but that’s something you’re gonna be doing in this actual class. So we can actually do a practicum right now. In fact, I’ll, I’ll tell you a simple story from antiquity and you see what you write down about it. Uh, to kind of summarize it to kind of, uh, give you an idea of what actually happened in the story. This particular story is about Alexander the Great, and I was on the great, you may not know a whole lot about him, uh, but he of course was this great, uh, Greek or specifically Macedonian commander.
Uh, his father, Philip had conquered all of Greece. And Alexander decided that he would like to conquer the Persian empire and hopefully the entire world, uh, as he was making his way into the Persian Empire across what we now call Turkey.
And back then it was known as Asia Minor, and it was filled with many different kingdoms. Uh, he came to this, this famous place, uh, where there was something called the Gordian Knot. And the Gordian Knot was this, uh, this type of string or rope, uh, that was tied together in such a way, kind of making almost like a ball like shape, uh, that it was said that, uh, nobody or not any ordinary person could untie it.
In fact, the prophecy that went with the Gordian knot was that whoever could untie it, uh, would become the ruler of the world. Well, it’s perfect for Alexander. He comes this place. The Gordian Knot is, uh, he has aspirations to actually become the ruler of the world. And so this is the perfect challenge for him. Can he actually fulfill the prophecy? Can he actually untie the Gordian knot? What’s really curious about Alexander is that Alexander was a man of action. Uh, he was a man of just going and doing things and then thinking about them later. It was not a man known for his patience. And so what he did when he came to the Gordian Knot was he drew his sword and he chopped it into, uh, demonstrating to the world that he had untied.
It just untied it in his own way. And then he went on to conquer the Persian empire and attempted to conquer the rest of the world as well. Now, I don’t know how much of that story you actually wrote down, but you should have some key things like Alexander the Great, maybe the fact that he wanted to conquer the world, and maybe the fact that there was this knot, perhaps you called it the Gordian knot.
It doesn’t even matter if you didn’t get Gordian in there necessarily, but you should have something down in your notes about the fact that, uh, whoever was going to untie the knot, uh, would actually was prophesied to be the ruler of the world.
And then you should have something down along in your notes along the lines of Alexander simply chopped into you with his sword and, uh, that showed that he was a man of action, or that showed that he had no patience or that showed that he thought about things differently.
Something along those lines. In other words, don’t worry about every detail that I gave you, uh, just try to record the the basic idea. This leads us to our sixth point and, and kind of my tips of how to take notes. And that has to do with quotes. In this particular series, I use a lot of quotes. I use a lot of lengthy quotes. You’re not gonna be able to write them all down, or at least I should, let me say this. You should not write them all down. Um, which you wanna try to do. When I give a quote, it’s record who said it, but also record what’s the main idea of this quote? And often I’ll explain to you, uh, what that quote is all about after I read the quote. Now, sometimes I’ll give you a little intro going into the quote to kind of give you a context for why I’m going to read this particular passage. Uh, sometimes I’ll explain the quote as we’re going along. Either way, as you’re hearing me read the quote, you can jot down a few things that you notice about it. In other words, uh, just try to record, uh, what it is that you’re noticing and then try to record what’s the main idea of the quote. Now, occasionally I’ll, I’ll give you something that somebody said, uh, that’s really, really short, and you can just jot that down. So for example, if I tell you that Winston Churchill once said, if you’re going through, hell, keep going, meaning don’t give up. Um, that’s a real easy quote to write down. And of course, you can even write down what it means. Don’t give up. Of course you can unpack that further. There’s a lot you could say about that quote, but all the same. I try to keep it simple. Uh, number seven, uh, the seventh tip for taking notes, and this is probably, uh, one of the ones that my students like the least.
And that is, you really should prepare to write most of the time. In other words, you’re going to be keeping your pencil or your pin moving steadily throughout the entire time that I’m teaching you. Uh, if you do not have muscles in your hand that are practiced to do this, you will, this is going to be a type of exercise for you, uh, something that you kind of constantly have to be doing and trying to get things down.
Um, that’s because there’s a lot to say. Uh, there’s a lot to actually give you. And I am not a, not a teacher who’s gifted at being brief. You can just ask my students. Um, number eight, and this is kind of just a general idea, uh, for taking notes, you need to go back and review your notes.
Now you do have the privilege of course, of also re-watching the videos and just, and reviewing in that way, something that you have that’s unique. Uh, but in terms of your notes themselves, it’s good to go back and review this in some way or another, whether it’s be, whether it’s rewatching the videos or it’s actually reading what you wrote down. Because you want the, the information and the stories, and especially the understanding and the wisdom I’m trying to pass on to you. You want those things to get into your long-term memory. The point of taking notes and the point of taking a class is not to check something off your list. It is not to get a credit. It is not to go for a grade. It’s actually to let these things begin to change. You let these things actually shape you. That’s why we want the great examples of the past to be in our long-term memory. It’s really difficult for us to see beyond a grade or a credit because that’s quite often how we’re taught. We’re often taught, or at least we experience a culture that obsesses over those things. I encourage you think beyond those things, uh, think in such a way that causes you to wonder why are we doing these things and what’s the value of this? That’s a good question to be constantly asking as we take a look at history together. Beyond that, as a, as actual students, I’ll tell you, you what I tell my students every time that I teach them, there are a few things, a few, uh, a few things you need to be looking for, uh, and yourself that is, or things you wanna be developing.
Uh, one is respect. It’s just respect for the actual past respect for people who lived before us and who have actually, uh, lived a long life of faithfulness and actually being able to say, okay, what is valuable about their lives?
Uh, what is it that they actually did? And showing respect for the past is, is huge. Something that you’re going to need. Another thing that you really need is what we call repentance and education. In fact, um, a token called education, repentance. Repentance, of course is and being able to recognize that we’re not who we are supposed to be, and being able to be honest about that. Another way to say what repentance is, is simply to call it, uh, humility. It’s the idea that we recognize, yes, we’re not who we’re supposed to be, and we also somehow recognize that we’re not who we once were. That’s how the gospel has actually changed us. So humility comes into play because we recognize I don’t know what I need to know. I don’t have the skills that I need to have. And we also recognize that we not only need to know certain things or know about certain people, say from the past, but I hope in education, I hope in your school experience and in your learning, I hope you recognize that you need people to actually sharpen you something that a video program cannot do.
You need people who actually mentor you. You need people who actually coach you. That ultimately is the job of education. It’s passing on, uh, what we love about, um, who God is and how he actually interacts in his world. Another thing that my students need, I guess is number three, is you really need a desire, uh, to, to want to know something about the past.
And the problem is, is that sometimes we have no desire for the subject that we actually have to do. Uh, whether it be history, whether it be math, uh, whether it be something in English, whatever the case may be. Uh, we have to recognize, uh, that there’s no such thing as boring subjects, in fact of something that Chesterton said. But there are board people, uh, even if, if you find yourself bored with the things that you’re encountering, uh, it’s really important to understand that there’s something here beyond you. Uh, there’s something here that is great and that is grand. And there’s something here that’s worthy of loving and knowing. So why we spend so much time passing these things on, and if you don’t find that you have an inkling of desire for that, that’s something to pursue, that inkling of desire itself. Anyway, I’ll end with that point and we’ll talk more about why we do this whole thing called school in the next lecture.