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Author: Timothy Spalding
Title: A communication from Mr. Timothy Spalding in response to previous article published in JAHC (A Call For a New Generation of Historical Web Sites - Mark S. Newmark)
Publication Info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
April 2000
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Source: A communication from Mr. Timothy Spalding in response to previous article published in JAHC (A Call For a New Generation of Historical Web Sites - Mark S. Newmark)
Timothy Spalding


vol. 3, no. 1, April 2000
Article Type: Computing in the K-12 Levels
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.3310410.0003.104

A communication from Mr. Timothy Spalding in response to previous article published in JAHC

This letter from Mr. Timothy Spalding was sent in response to the article by Mark S. Newmark, " A Call For a New Generation of Historical Web Sites. (AHC II, 3, Nov. 1999) We reprint it here with permission of both Mr. Newmark and Mr. Spalding in order to extend the analysis of the article.

Timothy Spalding [mailto:spalding@umich.edu]

Sent: Sunday, December 05, 1999 2:50 AM

To: mark_newmark@caryacademy.pvt.k12.nc.us

Subject: Too much Alexander ?

Dear Mr. Newmark,

N.S. Gill, who does ancient history and related topics for About.com, sent me a copy of your article "A Call For a New Generation of Historical Web Sites." I enjoyed reading it and believe it offers lots of good advice. I would like to take issue with your assertion that educators should aim to exclude rather than include sites. The goal should be the categorization and evaluation of material, and wherever options are intentionally narrowed, pathways should always be left to a more diverse menu of information. I run a web page on Alexander that has not Ms. Gill's 37 links, but over 1000. From my perspective, the answer is not fewer links, but more, with the caveat that they be well-described, categorized by topic and audience and developed by someone with a good knowledge of the subject. Your school teacher might, it is true, be at sea with About.com, although I think she provides a good selection and describes the sites well. On my site, however, he could flip quickly to the "Kids" section, which lists sites for children (under "For Kids") and to projects, including questions and links for answering them designed by teachers (under "For Teachers"). In the former he'd find lots of sites designed for kids (albeit most riddled with errors); in the latter he'd find links to pages by people who did what he is attempting to do. Internet "treasure hunts," lesson plans and so forth are at his fingertips.

If he dared to explore the biography section (where most of the meat is found) he'll find descriptions of every site. If he trusts my judgement he can check out the "Top 5%" section. To get a visual feel, my site also has over 300 thumbnails of the images I've found on Alexander throughout the web. These too are categorized, described and, what I believe is crucial, links are provided to the pages that house these images. Of course, I have no problem with PBS or any other education group putting up educationally-centered pages. In general, however, these pages are put up by people unwilling to do the leg-work required to find the really useful material and ignorant of the historical issues themselves. For example, two of the better educational "issues" pages were put out by the New Zealand Association of Classical Teachers. Hardly anybody links to it (except in New Zealand?). As for ignorance, I am continually disturbed by how difficult it is to eradicate myths about Alexander, in particular that he sought to unite all the races of the earth, a trope of educational textbooks and sites alike. Some myths are, I suppose, useful for school kids.

As a last point, I think it crucial that students are never confined within the educational websites their teachers find for them. Putting a link to my page would open things up for them quite a bit, and everyone should be taught how to search for things and the basic principles of source criticism.

Alexander the Great on the Web can be found at