Josh Shaine has been working with gifted students of all ages for more than 35 years, including many years teaching, administrating, advising, and sometimes directing programs for 7th – 12th graders through MIT’s Educational Studies Program. He has taught at public, private, and alternative schools, as well as working with special needs students, either at home or institutionalized, for school districts in several states. He was the headmaster of a small 7th – 12th grade alternative school in Boston for gifted “disgruntled” students. In addition to teaching and consulting, Josh currently organizes the Beyond IQ conferences near Boston and serves on the board for Hoagies Gifted. He’s more fun than this makes him sound!
The world could have turned out very differently, with just a little change – let’s consider the hows and whys of that!
Have you ever thought to yourself, “if only X hadn’t happened! Things would be sooo much better!” That is precisely the question we are exploring in this class. Both Science Fiction and Fantasy look at worlds in which some past event has changed, leading to a different world. Did the British win against the rebelling so-called patriots? Did the Germans win World War II? Did Lincoln (or Kennedy) survive the assassination attempt? What if the Taino did not trust Columbus when he arrived? What if I had gotten home 5 minutes earlier? These plot devices are considered Alternate, or Counterfactual, Histories.
Alternate Histories is recommended for learners ages 11 to 15. We will consider the differences between writing history as a historian and writing history as a fictional writer. Students will reflect on how past events could be changed and why these changes would lead to different worlds today. Join us or learn, “What if you did not take this class?”
As a final project for this course, students will craft some sort of alternate history of their own or a critique of somebody else’s. It could be a story, an essay, music, art, or even a diorama!
Sample Course Outline
This class has 8 meetings and looks at big questions and plot devices in different ways. A sample outline is provided:
- History versus Story
- New views of the past
- Another present
- Future histories
- Project presentations
Alternate Histories is offered Fall 2019.