From the fjords of Norway comes the obligation to update the heroic travels of moi, the struggling historian in this most postmodern of worlds. In short, I have accrued no immediate spectacular insights or epiphanies. Instead, just a scant few and not too terribly deep observations about the teaching of “H”istory (with a capital H).

Students aboard the USS Philippine Sea (CG-58) exploring a primary document.

If flexibility is next to godliness, I’m Poseidon’s right hand man. Imagine teaching in a classroom where the floor is moving, where students begin to slide in their chairs if the ship takes a significant list to port or starboard, where boatswain mates blow these devilish piercing whistles from the pilot house into the ship’s speaker systems, where libraries do not exist, where internet access is a string and two tin cups, where bulkheads and decks vibrate as repairs are made in a nearby compartment, where sleep deprived students –and a teacher – struggle to excel with what we have.

And you know what? We’re doing awesome. Through all the inconveniences, these fine navy warriors (I mean students) are attacking their readings, struggling with the crafting of their prose, passing their quizzes, turning in their essays, making the connections that the past is more about their present than previously conceived. It’s only two weeks in with six more weeks of course work to go. Motivation now becomes the standard mantra from me to them. The expectations are furrowed, now comes the follow through. I’m more than happy at their progress just in the two short weeks we’ve been together.

Thus far I’ve been able to maintain a combination of high quality lecture, primary documents, and textbook readings. Sometimes the discussions become a bit too abbreviated, I might have to pull out some kind of popsicle trick or something to advance this end of the course.

One other observation: the stellar support from numerous chiefs and officers works to my advantage – a mega understatement. For my colleagues back home, imagine a student that missed a class, missed an assignment; happens all the time, right? But now imagine talking to that student’s superior (parent, rich aunt, significant other, etc). Then imagine that student knocking at your door professing to do better. Aboard the Philippine Sea, count on it.

And finally, note that I cannot update my blog at any old time I feel the impulse. I am physically prevented from doing so while underway. In the coming months, I’ll be underway… a lot. Not until I find myself back in the land of California, among my family and friends, will blogging return to normal. That’s late July early August time frame.

So till next time, keep thinking about your now with an eye on your past, it’s your best defense against a future that’s bent on arriving anyway.

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