Why We Need A Holistic Approach To History

Why We Need A Holistic Approach To History

It is necessary is to reshape how we teach basic history courses.
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As a history major, I have come to understand all that is involved in this field. I believe that in many cases, we need to look at history more holistically.

I’ve come to this conclusion based on some experiences I’ve had in my various classes. In one class, I had an extremely positive experience looking at the past. It wasn’t necessarily a history class, but we looked at a combination of historical texts, art, literature, and music, looking not only at the typically studied political and social events of the day, but also the lives of individuals including women and people of color across various social classes. I felt like it was one of the most beneficial ways to study the time period. It gave me a holistic understanding, allowing me to look at the time period with greater understanding than if I had studied the traditional stories of history.

I was made aware of the problems with looking at just one thread of history, the dominant narrative. History, so often written by the victors, frequently will ignore the stories of so many people in that time. Gaining a knowledge of what life could be like for individuals who had experiences that were different from the narrative of Western white men enriched my understanding for time periods from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. It cultivated an inspiration to learn more about these lesser-heard stories. It gave me an appreciation for those who teach history with a holistic approach.

What do I mean by this? Simply that we cannot ignore the lives of those who were not in power when we study history. The dangers of doing so mean that we do not give merit to the lives of the disenfranchised, of the non-winners. And there’s so much more to learn with understanding those stories.

When I talked to my professor about including more women in his class, it was the knowledge of the women who defied the standards of their day that gave me the courage. It was thinking of those specific women from the past that gave me the courage to try to change the present and impact the future.

Many of us recognize the problems that result in only perpetuating the dominate narrative, yet we continue to discuss “other” stories by separating them into different courses.

That is not to say that specific courses on those issues are not necessary; in fact, they are more necessary in order to gain a niche understanding of those narratives.

What does happen in general history courses, however, is that a specific lecture will be devoted to considering the situation of a specific group of people, and that only furthers the distinctions of these people from the dominant narrative.

What is necessary is to reshape how we teach basic history courses by integrating those stories into the curriculum, in weaving those stories together. Because it shows that we all have something to contribute to history, that there are stories of hope and resiliency in something other than the dominant narrative, and that each life makes an impact in history, in ways we cannot fathom if we pay attention only to the dominant narrative.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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5 Things I Learned While Being A CNA

It's more than just $10 an hour. It is priceless.
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If I asked you to wipe someone's butt for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to give a shower to a blind, mentally confused person for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to simply wear a shirt stained with feces that was not your own for 12+ hours for $10 would you do it?

You probably wouldn't do it. I do it every day. During the course of one hour I change diapers, give showers to those who can no longer bathe themselves, feed mouths that sometimes can no longer speak and show love to some that do not even know I am there all for ten dollars.

I am a certified nursing assistant.

My experiences while working as a CNA have made me realize a few things that I believe every person should consider, especially those that are in the medical field.

1. The World Needs More People To Care

Working as a nursing assistant is not my only source of income. For the past year I have also worked as a waitress. There are nights that I make triple the amount while working as a waitress for 6 hours than I make while taking care of several lives during a 12 hour shift. Don't get me wrong, being a waitress is not a piece of cake. I do, however, find it upsetting that people care more about the quality of their food than the quality of care that human beings are receiving. I think the problem with the world is that we need to care more or more people need to start caring.

2. I Would Do This Job For Free

One of my teachers in high school said "I love my job so much, if I didn't have to pay bills, I would do it for free." I had no clue what this guy was talking about. He would work for free? He would teach drama filled, immature high school students for free? He's crazy.

I thought he was crazy until I became a CNA. Now I can honestly say that this is a job I would do for free. I would do it for free? I'd wipe butts for free? I must be crazy.

There is a very common misconception that I am just a butt-wiper, but I am more than that. I save lives!

Every night I walk into work with a smile on my face at 5:00 PM, and I leave with a grin plastered on my face from ear to ear every morning at 5:30 AM. These people are not just patients, they are my family. I am the last face they see at night and the first one they talk to in the morning.

3. Eat Dessert First

Eat your dessert first. My biggest pet peeve is when I hear another CNA yell at another human being as if they are being scolded. One day I witnessed a co-worker take away a resident's ice cream, because they insisted the resident needed to "get their protein."

Although that may be true, we are here to take care of the patients because they can't do it themselves. Residents do not pay thousands of dollars each month to be treated as if they are pests. Our ninety-year-old patients do not need to be treated as children. Our job is not to boss our patients around.

This might be their last damn meal and you stole their ice cream and forced them to eat a tasteless cafeteria puree.

Since that day I have chosen to eat desserts first when I go out to eat. The next second of my life is not promised. Yes, I would rather consume an entire dessert by myself and be too full to finish my main course, than to eat my pasta and say something along the lines of "No, I'll pass on cheesecake. I'll take the check."

A bowl of ice cream is not going to decrease the length of anyone's life any more than a ham sandwich is going to increase the length of anyone's life. Therefore, I give my patients their dessert first.

4. Life Goes On

This phrase is simply a phrase until life experience gives it a real meaning. If you and your boyfriend break up or you get a bad grade on a test life will still continue. Life goes on.

As a health care professional you make memories and bonds with patients and residents. This summer a resident that I was close to was slowly slipping away. I knew, the nurses knew and the family knew. Just because you know doesn't mean that you're ready. I tried my best to fit in a quick lunch break and even though I rushed to get back, I was too late. The nurse asked me to fulfill my duty to carry on with post-mortem care. My eyes were filled with tears as I gathered my supplies to perform the routine bed bath. I brushed their hair one last time, closed their eye lids and talked to them while cleansing their still lifeless body. Through the entire process I talked and explained what I was doing as I would if my patient were still living.

That night changed my life.

How could they be gone just like that? I tried to collect my thoughts for a moment. I broke down for a second before *ding* my next call. I didn't have a moment to break down, because life goes on.

So, I walked into my next residents room and laughed and joked with them as I normally would. I put on a smile and I probably gave more hugs that night than I normally do.

That night I learned something. Life goes on, no matter how bad you want it to just slow down. Never take anything for granted.

5. My Patients Give My Life Meaning

My residents gave my life a new meaning. I will never forget the day I worked twelve hours and the person that was supposed to come in for me never showed up. I needed coffee, rest, breakfast or preferably all of the above. I recall feeling exasperated and now I regret slightly pondering to myself "Should I really be spending my summer like this?" Something happened that changed my view on life completely. I walked into a resident's room and said "Don't worry it's not Thursday yet", since I had told her on that Tuesday morning that she wouldn't see me until I worked again on Thursday. She laughed and exclaimed "I didn't think so, but I didn't want to say anything," she chuckled and then she smiled at me again before she said, "Well... I am glad you're still here." The look on her face did nothing less than prove her words to be true. That's when I realized that I was right where I needed to be.

Yes, I was exhausted. Yes, I needed caffeine or a sufficient amount of sleep. My job is not just a job. My work is not for a paycheck. My residents mean more to me than any amount of money.

I don't mind doing what I do for $10; because you can't put a price on love. The memories that I have with my patients are priceless.


Cover Image Credit: Mackenzie Rogers

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I'm A Procrastinator And I'm Not Interested In Changing

Procrastinating is what works for me, so I'm going to keep on keeping on.

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I am a self-proclaimed queen of procrastination. I've had friends tell me, "If anyone can write a paper overnight and still get a good grade, it's you." I consistently wait to start things until the day before it's due. I even turned an assignment in six months past the date that it was initially requested because it wasn't "officially" due, so I kept putting it off.

Many people would hear that story and immediately be concerned for my mental health (because who would continuously stress themselves out like that) and for my academic career. But let me tell you, I've turned something in late one time (in sixth grade) and I somehow made it into the Honors College at ECU, so I must be doing something right.

I procrastinate because I work well under pressure. There's no motivation like motivation that comes from an impending deadline.

My best projects and papers have been done the night before. The highest grade I received on an organic chemistry test was earned after pulling an almost-all-nighter (that, yes, may have included a few meltdowns, but I got the grade I wanted). The best science project I've ever done was started and completed the day before it was due. I gave my poster board some 3-D effects with cut up makeup wedges and even had some stuff that wiggled around to simulate earthquakes (I'm still pretty proud of it).

My best work comes out of me when I no longer have a choice but to sit down and get it done. I'm more efficient and my work is higher quality because I know I don't have time to go back and redo anything.

However, there is a certain level of skill to it, and quite frankly I've got it down to a tee.

See you can't procrastinate too much. Because there is a fine line between putting things off but knowing you'll still get them done and that moment where you go, "holy crap, I'm not going to get this done on time." You've got be careful and strategic about what you put off. I always do my little assignments first. You know, the ones that take 20 minutes max to complete. I leave the bigger stuff because those are the things I need that motivation of a deadline for.

I know there are people who will read this and think I have absolutely lost my mind. But this is what works for me and it's what I know works for some other people too. I'm not advocating for procrastination, but I am saying that it's okay if you do. It's okay if that's what works for you.

Everyone stays so focused on "studying a little bit each day" and other "study tips" of that nature. That just doesn't work for me. 99% of the time I'm not motivated enough to study a little bit each day. I can't say that I know too many people who ARE that motivated.

I'm a procrastinator and I'm not looking to change my ways. So please stop giving me study tips and telling me I 'd be less stressed if I had "better" study habits. Procrastinating works for me and I'm going to keep doing it until it doesn't.

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