Honors Foundation of Western Civilization

I loved history in high school, it was without a doubt my favorite class. I always found the material incredibly interesting, and tried as hard I could to remember the material not just for the sake of the class, but for my own personal enjoyment as well. But when I began my college level history class, I found some shocking differences between the levels of the subject. In high school I had been taught to believe that everything I was learning was hard, solid fact. But at college I was shocked to learn that history relied more on building strong, well supported arguments, then rigid factual information. After All, the material we were covering had happened thousands of years ago, leaving historians with fragments of what was. This meant that instead of knowing with one hundred percent certainty what happened, historians were taking all the bits and pieces of what they knew and were instead arguing over which way they fit back together.

While this logically made sense, it would be impossible, after all, for historians to completely understand events that had occurred so long ago, it still left a large impact on me. This meant that everything I had learned about the ancient world, was an educated guess of what actually happened. This completely redefined the way I thought about and processed not just history, but information in general.

Whenever I finish a class, I always try to think back to what it was that I gained from it. What did I learn? How did this make me grow as a person? And This class was no different. It forced me to restructure how I examine history, showing me that history is expressed not in a stream of facts, but in a coherent argument. Therefore to examine history, is to examine how to argue. Furthermore, this meant that my view of how arguments should be structured was completely changed as well. That is what I had gained from this class, a new way to process information, and a new outlook on how arguments should be formatted. I had also of course learned a great deal about the ancient world as well, but it was these new skills that were valuable. After All, when looking for a job, skills pertaining to argument construction and deconstruction are more important, than knowing the specifics of the Peloponnesian War.

The attached file is an example of one of my response papers I wrote during this class, in which I utilize the skill of examining arguments, by writing a short piece deconstructing an author’s argument and evidence gathered in support of said argument.