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  • seymour .
    Apr 25 12:55 PM
      Tips for Effective Studying
       
      I recommend taking the study skills class that Mary Rider offers over the break (often it’s at the intercession.) These are some of the things her class helped me learn.  Some I learned earlier elsewhere, and some I’ve worked out myself (though I’m sure they’ve been figured out before.)
       
      *Paying attention and participating in class are some of best things you can do to understand anything you are learning.  It will help you get excited, keep you awake, and the professor and other students are right there to answer or deepen your questions and therefore your understanding of the material.  Please don’t be afraid to be eager- it makes it better for you, the teacher, and your classmates.  Having a blasé attitude is ridiculous; why be in school and spend so much time, energy, and money if not to learn? 
       
      *Take notes- Try understanding what the teacher says the most and why they say it.  If it’s repeated often it’s likely important. 
       
      *Repetition is also important when studying.  How do you remember the words to your favorite songs? By listening to them, singing along (even if you don’t admit it), and thinking about them and what they mean to you (going deeper, making connection that are personal as well as universal.)  Use the same techniques when trying to remember (aka memorize) class material:  listen, jot down what seems important, ask questions if you are unsure of something, and relate it to other things you know that are similar, relevant, or interesting.
      *If you are shy or embarrassed about asking questions (which sooner or later you’ll have to overcome anyhow, but…) use the school library. 
      - It has the Internet (so awesome- look up vocabulary/ words you don’t quite know/understand – m-w.com is a good free online dictionary.)  You can cut and paste online definitions into word, keeping everything in chronological or alphabetical order for each of your classes or even each subtopic/chapter in each class.  Learning any subject is merely learning how to think about and understand ideas (represented by words) relevant to the subject.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to make your subject vocabulary understandable for you.   (One of the reasons Malcom X was so intelligent was because he read the dictionary to improve his vocabulary and thus his understanding of the world and society in which he participated and lived.)
      - The library also has numerous periodicals which are helpful to understand how History (or any other topic) is relevant today.  If you read, watch, and investigate the news you will become more aware of how interrelated your studies and life are with the rest of the world.  This knowledge and appreciation alone will help you become more in tune and aware as to what to pay attention to (in class and elsewhere) and why. 
      - If you’re very visual (I am) you can rent movies, read, make cartoons, or see plays, dance, etc. that will help you connect what you’re learning.  You can even check out and watch videos/DVDs in the library.  Yay! 
      - The library is also chocked full of (duh) books.  Books, novels, short stories, research documents, etc. are all at your beck and call.  They can make the class more interesting and personally meaningful for you or inspire you in your free time to use what you’ve learned to apply it to life. And if the library doesn’t have a book they’ll get it for you (usually takes about a week.)
      - It’s beautiful and inviting!  There is so much light, many comfy chairs, tables to spread out on, personal desks (for more privacy/concentration), and computers and printers (even a scanner in the tech mall) to use.  And it’s all free as a student.  Use the library.  Love the library.  (I know how dorky this seems but really, it is so fantastic.) It is such a valuable resource and is rarely too crowded (even less now that final drop date is passed!)
       
      *Learn to enjoy school and studying.  If you make music, food, love, cars, buildings, gardens, etc. you research, observe, participate, ask questions, practice, and ask for feedback (tests) to get better so that even when it’s hard it can be fun if you really love it.  Love school and love your mind so that making it work and think for you is fun (because, btw, doing so will obviously help those other areas too!) Make studying fun and interesting in how you organize your thoughts and attitudes.    
       
      *Have study groups or share your notes with someone.  Even having someone to share ideas with in class is invaluable.  You could become great friends or at the very least great nerds together! I often miss or overlook things that the professor mentions and having another set (or more) of ears and minds to study or share notes with fills in all the gaps.  (Luckily we have great lecture notes in this class, but in many classes the professor won’t even write on the board much. Take advantage of the resources you’ve been given.)
       
      *Read your book ahead of time.  Highlight/underline what you think is important (it can be in pencil if you’re unsure), put a ? next to anything you don’t understand or want to know more about, and write notes in the margins that remind you of why it’s important (this can even be a name or silly thought that helps you remember and relate the material in your own mind.)  BEING PREPARED FOR CLASS WILL SOLVE 50% OF YOUR PROBLEM!!! If you are, class will be a review of what you’ve already learned, thus (repeating) cementing the material into your long term memory.  It is also more respectful and empowering to yourself, your fellow students, and your teacher.  It means you will make the class easier to follow and more interesting at least for you and will not slow the class down for others.
       
      *Study and Work ahead!!! Finals are less than a month away.  The little bits of information you can learn here and there now will make you ready for the final so that by that time it is just review.  Try to do this for all your classes so you don’t get overwhelmed.
      - I don’t know what your schedule is like now, but in the future I suggest trying to take classes that kind of go together as far as thinking styles are concerned.  At the beginning of the semester I decided to take Critical Thinking (in Philosophy and English), Intro to Psychology, this class, and Creative Writing.  I wanted classes that would push me to focus on how I learned and how I could make connections to learn and understand more throughout school and life and communicate effectively.  (The Creative Writing was mostly as an outlet for my swimming mind.) By taking classes that have similar thought patterns and ideas, I better understand what I’m learning overall and each class becomes more meaningful because of the overflow of thought and material from class to class.  It is easier for me to learn and remember this way. 
      - You could do this by jotting down what you’re interested in, what you have to take, what you have time for, and what is relevant and reasonable for you. 
       
      *Also, I’d recommend studying after each class.  Studying is most effective if you do it often, even for short periods of time (like 5 minutes).  Take good notes from class, the book, and your own research.  Then always carry some notes with you so that when you’re waiting in line, eating a snack, (if you watch TV.) during a commercial, waiting for a download, etc. you can study and review.  It really helps.  This way you remember the material and will be able to use it throughout your life.  Learning is invaluable.  (People in concentration camps were abused, tortured, and stripped of everything/one they had.  However those who were not killed and remained sane, even though they were damaged, still had their minds. You can always start over with a spirit and a mind.) *this is also a good reason not to do many/any drugs or too many high-impact sports.
      • Most recommend studying at the same time and place so that it becomes a ritual/habit.  This makes it easier to make studying part of your lifestyle and not just something you binge once in a while to pass an exam.
       
      So I know how nerdy and grandma-ish I probably sound (I’m 19, if you’re wondering) but these things have really helped me study so far.  I hope maybe you’ll find some of it interesting or relevant.  I’m also willing to have a study group once a week with you or anyone else interested and serious in the class.
       
      Good Luck!
      -L. Seymour
       
      p.s. It’s great that you can ask for help.  It shows so much humility and potential as a person.  Just make sure that you’re willing to do your fair share because no one can learn for you. 
      p.p.s. Here are the class notes I took yesterday.  Please feel free to fill in/correct anything I missed (which is quite probably extensive.) I think this is the gist of it though.  
      p.p.p.s. (this is the last one I swear!) Though not to encourage the power-hungry…                                                       NERDS RULE THE WORLD!!!
       
      *Most of this is word-for-word from the handout or Mr. Contreras’ lecture but if anything is wrong it is due to my misinterpretation or poor hearing.
       
      History 115
      04.24.06
      Class Notes
       
      On the Board at the Beginning:
      *Concluding Communism w/ Friendly Dictators
                  - Guatemala ushers in the Cold War for Latin America
       
      *Discussing handouts:
      1) Death Squad Diary
      2) Rigoberta Menchu’s Testimony
      3) Guatemalan Bishop Who Detailed Abuses Killed
      4) Clinton Gives Apology
      5) Documents Reveal CIA Guatemalan Assassin
       
      *Be working on Journal #5 on Rigoberta Menchu
       
      President Jacobo Arbenz
      -         at time where fear is working in a bipolar society/world
      -         wrapped into vortex of Cold War (misnomer for Third World ; ‘hot’, bloody, much violence)
      -         Eisenhower Administration (though as far back as the Truman Administration 1945-53 during which time the groundwork was laid for overthrow)
      o        Speculated and argued that Arbenz was a puppet of the Soviet Union (untrue)
      o       Arbenz was a capitalist at heart, his three main agendas being
      §         1) To convert Guatemala into being economically independent (nationalism)
      §         2) To make Guatemala modern and capitalist
      §         3) To do all this to raise the standard of living for the majority of people in Guatemala . (p 5 of 21)
      This threatened the U.S. so that they felt it necessary to take ‘preventive strikes’ towards Guatemala (and Arbenz) out of fear.
      o       Pre-emptive= acting/defending out of imminent danger
      o       Pre-ventive= acting/attacking by speculating on what could happen in the future (p 9 of 21)
      -         Nationalism= loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups (m-w.com)
      -         Social Reform= encourages peasants, workers, and students to organize and form unions and support systems.  Land reforms. Education, etc.
      o       Arbenz , Guatemala ; Cardenas , Mexico ; Vargas , Brazil
      o       Why wasn’t Cardenas overthrown? World War II ( U.S. needed the ally and resources- otherwise Mexico would have supplied Germany )
      -         Domino Theory= if one Latin American country ‘falls’ to communism they all will ( U.S. especially threatened by Mexico the ‘big domino’)  (p 9 of 21)
      o       Covert operations= how regimes were overthrown
      o       Overt operation= outright invasion
      *read Overthrow by Steven Kinzer for more info.  Also look up and read          Schlesinger.
      The Guatemala Invasion was modeled after a U.S. and English backed overthrow a year earlier in 1953 in Iran .  There, the English MI3 and the U.S. CIA overthrew the Mosadeq regime for control of oil in the region. 
      -         This is also the model for Bay of Pigs and many other covert Latin American invasions.
      -         Mexico takes in Arbenz, the Castro Brothers, and Guevara because they all have similar beliefs and values. 
      -         When Nixon visits he says “Those communist sons of bitches.” Because he saw the world in a dichotomy as either communist or the ‘free world.’
      o       In the name of democracy Nixon moves Guatemala away from democracy.
      o       Armas was chosen by Nixon and obviously against Guevara.
      -         Armas reverses Arbenz’s work and turns back the clock on social reform.
      -         Guevara remains in Mexico until 1959. Goes from being a nationalist to a radical.
      o       ‘If you’re going after the king, you’ll have to kill him.’
      National Security Doctrine: Division of Labor (p 13/14 of 21)
      - Dictators: Armas , Guatemala ; Samosa , Nicaragua
      - Who is an internal threat? (Generals use Cold-War language/propaganda)
                  - Obviously people who take up guns
                  - Students, union workers, Jesuit priests and nuns: all targeted
      - Chuck Colsen (Nixon’s later advisor in the 1970’s): “When you have them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow.”
      Che & Fidel: Lessons Learned
      -         Peaceful means are attacked and destroyed so shy go that route?
      -         Radical social reform is necessary from the very beginning (or else foreign investors will circle the wagon and come back to overthrow)
      o       Push for full-fledged social reform
      o       Even before the Cold War there was a push towards Socialism (think land reform, Mexican Revolution and on…)
      §         Socialism & Nationalism vs. Capitalism & Democracy
      ·        Socialism and Capitalism are economic theories or practices.
      ·        Nationalism and Democracy are forms of government.
      ·        (Note Nixon’s hypocrisy and doublespeak especially in regards to ‘democracy’- what is it really?  How did he represent (or not) it in action?)
      -         Emilio Zapata- vehemently regarded as a hero then for what he stood for (although he had never read Marx or Engles)
      -         Jeanne Kirkpatrick (Reagan’s UN ambassador) notes the difference between
      o        “authoritarian” regimes ( U.S. allies/military dictatorships/aka ‘capitalist dictatorships’): Chile , Argentina , Brazil , Nicaragua (til ’79), Guatemala , Honduras
      o       “totalitarian” regimes (professed socialist nations) Soviet Union , China , Cuba , Nicaragua (after ’80)
      o       This is how the U.S. military action is RATIONALIZED/SOLD TO THE PUBLIC … so, when Americans ask “Why do they hate us?” it’s not because they’re jealous.  *Blowback comes with a vengeance!*
       *read article “Imperial Amnesia” (later turned into a book). Also check out novel One Day of Life from perspective of a 14yr old Salvadorian village girl.
      Guatemala (p 16 of 21)
      GUERRA         ILLAS
      (war)                (small)
      -         guerillas= ill equipped and armed but totally hardcore and subversive to retaliate
      o       in the 1980’s guerillas were active in all Latin American countries except Costa Rica (like Switzerland) which didn’t want/have the same severe inequalities, dictatorships, etc.
      -         Liberation Theology- reading the bible through the eyes of the oppressed. Manchu (p 17 of 21)
      -         Paramilitary organizations organized by regime to scapegoat atrocities
      o       MANO            BLANCA
      (hand)              (white)
      Class ended with group summaries and discussions of the 5 articles mentioned at beginning of class/notes.
       


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