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Annual Report 2016_web

Elizabeth TAPSCOTT

Elizabeth TAPSCOTT Assistant Professor of History “ I realized we haven’t always lived like we do and there have been people before us with stories to tell.” 8

Elizabeth Tapscott’s interest in history began at home, but it was ignited on a family trip. Tapscott’s mother and grandmother were history enthusiasts, and on her sixth birthday, she visited Colonial Williamsburg, Va., on a family vacation. That’s where she discovered her passion for studying history. “I saw people depicting what life was like during Revolutionary times, and it was fascinating to me,” said Tapscott, who is an assistant professor of history. “I realized we haven’t always lived like we do and there have been people before us with stories to tell.” At first, Tapscott was determined to study U.S. Colonial history. Then she met a professor while a student at Eastern (Pa.) University that helped her find her true passion – European history. “While working on my bachelor’s degree, I met an amazing professor that completely changed my worldview,” she said. “I had only been taught American history in school. He helped me to see people on the other side of the world, with cultures older than ours, whose lives are different but somehow connected to us.” Tapscott said she wants her Lindsey Wilson College students to engage with the past as a real place with real people, like she did as an undergraduate. She does that by employing a multisensory teaching method – one that utilizes the five senses to enhance the memory and comprehension of a topic. Tapscott’s approach to teaching students about the Christian Orthodox Church is a case in point. “I enjoy teaching about the Orthodox Church because it’s so completely foreign – even to people who grew up in church,” she said. “A service in an Orthodox Church is designed to engage all the senses. I try to do the same in the classroom – we talk about the bread they eat and the wine they drink, and we see the images of the saints. I help them to imagine the incense the worshippers are smelling all the while listening to the choir music I play for them in the classroom. The sights and sounds fill the room. Students are seeing and smelling and hearing, and they really enjoy the rich experience.” Tapscott uses the same technique when she teaches about World War I. “I get excited about teaching World War I because we as a nation forget about it – we were only in it for less than a year and we won it for (the Allied Powers),” she said. Tapscott again uses sensory teaching aids – the sounds of bombs exploding and artillery falling on the battlefield and images of what the trenches looked like. “I use pictures of soldiers, most of which didn’t come home, and the students realize they are the same age as the soldiers,” she said. Assistant Professor of History Elizabeth Tapscott delivers a lecture on Mary, Queen of Scots. Once a week students in Tapscott’s classes read excerpts from documents that were written during the time and place they are studying. Tapscott often plays music from that era to create an ambiance. “The biggest victory for me is when I can get them to realize these are real people. Not just dead people whose lives don’t affect theirs at all – but living, breathing people who had struggles and loved and hated and lived, just like we do," she said. "Bringing the past to life in a way they can engage with and learn from. “We learn from our mistakes but also from the mistakes of others. If I can pass on an understanding of the mistakes made by others throughout history, maybe my students will use the knowledge to do something better.” Tapscott said she wants students to learn how to think critically, as well as to be able to distinguish between fact and opinion. “Whether it’s Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr. or Confucius, I want them to think critically and determine what is real and what is opinion,” she said. “They should look for the truth. If they can learn to do that with historical figures, maybe they can learn to apply those principles with today’s leaders, politicians and news media.” And Tapscott also hopes students will understand that a better appreciation of history can lead to a better future. “History helps us to live in the world now,” she said. “If we study world history beyond America, we can understand that we come from all over the world and we can also understand the other nations we interact with on a global scale.” “History helps us to understand why the world is the way it is. It also helps us to understand ourselves as individuals.” 9

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