Award-winning Aldrete to Regents: History isn’t history, it’s asking questions

UW-Green Bay Prof. Gregory S. Aldrete gave the UW System Board of Regents a little history lesson upon receiving the Regents Teaching Excellence Award Friday at the board’s meeting in Waukesha. He told them he favored the ancient Greek usage of the word “historia” — the asking of questions — over the more modern sense that it’s a record of past events. Aldrete told the Regents he doesn’t employ textbooks in his classes:

“The readings consist entirely of material written by the actual people that we are studying. And when I read these ancient texts with my students, we are not passively absorbing information: we actively engage the texts, we aggressively interrogate them, we rip them apart and look both for the meanings that the author intended to convey as well as those he or she did not, we consider issues of bias, and think about what sources the author had to draw upon, and we always ask, can we believe what the author says, and why, or why not.”

Aldrete went on to describe the three fundamental skills he seeks to encourage in his students — organizing and assessing information, communicating effectively, thinking critically — and why they’re essential in any career. He also urged the board never to lose sight of the core values of history and the humanities and the role of universities as places where questions are asked. We’ll have a link to Aldrete’s archived remarks in our next issue of our weekly community e-publication, the Log Extra.

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