American Heritage

So this semester I'm taking the infamous American Heritage class and I went into the class with a mixture of reviews. Some people absolutely loathed it and think it's the worst class to come to BYU while others told me I'd love it and that it was amazing. I like history, especially American History, so I went into the first day of lecture with a high degree of optimism. I was not disappointed! I think I'll love this class! As mentioned earlier, I love history and I find American history completely fascinating. Secondly, I think it will be a unique and uplifting experience to view American history through a Gospel-oriented lens. Spiritual principles and Church doctrine are an active part of the curriculum and basically the whole point of the course anyway. And as icing on the cake, my professor is Matthew Holland, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's son--so cool! (On the first day of lecture he was showing some Powerpoint slides of his family and I did a double take, thinking, "hey, I know who he is!").

We have the traditional American Heritage textbook (Our Founding Heritage), a James Madison biography, and a small book called "Just and Holy Principles," which is a compilation of thoughts of prophets and apostles regarding the founding of America and its history since. In the teacher supplement we also have a bunch of historical readings that complement the subjects taught in the lab and the lecture. It's so cool! I'm loving it!

This week we've been focusing more on the European history leading up to the creation of the United States and more specifically on Columbus and his critical role in the "discovery" of the Western Hemisphere. I like learning about Columbus from this perspective because for all my high school years, I learned an extremely bias version of the Columbus saga. My history teacher my sophomore year, (and I really do love this teacher and consider her one of my favorites and most intellectually stimulating), vehemently hated Columbus and essentially indoctrinated her students against him. We read multiple articles and excerpts of how horrible he was and how he didn't deserve the honor and merit we give him today. In American Heritage however, I appreciate how the subject matter isn't sugarcoated, but it's put into a more spiritual context. Yes, Columbus didn't do good things once he arrived in the Americas, but nonetheless, he was guided by the Spirit to help open up the way to the New World and he was crucial in laying the foundations for the Restoration.

I love how the professor frequently brings in Gospel doctrine and he makes clear connections between history and scripture, making it easier to see Providence in the world's unfolding history. This class will definitely require a lot of time and work, but I think it will be worth it. This isn't supposed to be a breeze-by class, but I think that if I actively apply myself and soak in the material, I won't have a frustrating time.

Well, that's all I really have to say about American Heritage thus far. We'll see how the rest of the semester goes!

*Oh and also, I might be able to take an orchestra class for non-majors, that way I can play still, but not have to be with so many people who are more serious about it and better than I am! Yay!!*


Diana said...

Students seem to love or hate American Heritage. I love it, I had a great teacher and an even better TA. We did not have all the different books though, but my class was forever ago.
Yay for finding an orchestra class!

dpw said...

Oh how I love BYU! Did you ever get your UPS package of misc. stuff? Also--watch for another smaller package coming soon to a dorm near you!

Jill said...

Incorporating Gospel insights into the classes at BYU was my favorite thing about being there. It was so nice to have our perspective flow into world history, philosophy, art, etc.

michelle said...

I'm so glad you love American Heritage. I'm one of the ones that loathed it. I found it so boring, I couldn't stay awake. Most of the time I couldn't even make myself go to class. I'm sure a lot of it depends on the calibre of teacher... That was the only class I ever got a C in!

Exciting about finding a good orchestra fit.

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