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U-WIRE: Princeton historian supports ╬controversy as a teaching tool'

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday October 30, 2002

HOUSTON ¸ A prominent Princeton University historian called for more teachers of history to use "controversy as a teaching tool" during a lecture Saturday on campus.

Nell Painter, along with Linda Gordon, a New York University history professor, and Allan Winkler, an author, all discussed the need for more perspectives in history as well as the need to dispel some American myths, like "family values," which Gordon says never existed.

The event was part of the Project for the Active Teaching of History conference. It was co-sponsored by the University of Houston's Department of History and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and featured three speakers to talk about the lack of student interest in history throughout the educational system.

Princeton University history professor Nell Painter said students would be more likely to care about history if its conflicts could be related to their own personal experiences. The lecture, in the UH Hilton Grand Ballroom.

"What is bad about the campus at the moment, and what we're trying to change, is (UH) has a commuter mentality; you come, take your classes and leave," said Steven Mintz, UH history professor and host of the conference.

"We believe the University of Houston needs to be an intellectual oasis, a place where really exciting, cutting-edge ideas are debated, discussed and listened to," he said.

This conference was part of the history department's larger effort to bring intellectual speakers to the campus so they are more readily accessible to students. This included linguist Noam Chomsky, who was here Oct. 18.

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