Role of perspective in history
Ross Woods, 2020
Purpose: Explore the effects of perspective on the writing of historical documents.
Give each participant one of the tasks below. Do not let anybody know what tasks the others have been given.
- Write the minutes of the meeting. Be as neutral and objective as possible, and do not write anything that would embarrass individuals or the board as a whole. Use the minimum number of words and avoid very long sentences.
- Write a report for a tawdry gossip column in a tabloid newspaper. Your only limitation is that your report must be true, because untruth could be defamatory and you would be sued. You need to get maximum impact for your audience in order to attract readers.
- You are writing a biography of Al Axton. You admire him very much so you want to make him look as good a possible. Write a report to be included in the biography.
- You are writing a biography of Ben Button. You want to make him look human and realistic so your readers can understand his weaknesses as well as his strengths. Write a report to be included in the biography.
- You are writing for the organization's newsletter. It will go out to everyone.
- You are a student writing an essay on governance, and was given the task of observing and describing a board meeting and commenting on it.
- You are the chairperson of the board and are writing to the secretary of the central office asking for help in how to handle the situation.
All students observe the same incident: The five members of the board are having a meeting when an argument breaks out between two of them, Al Axton and Ben Button, and goes on for five minutes.
Separate students and get them to write reports of 50 to 100 words. (30 minutes)
Get students to read their reports.
What are the effects of perspective on the writing of historical documents?