This week, we continue our series to help you become better acquainted with each department at Maranatha.
For the five teachers who have devoted themselves to teaching History to our students, the subject is not about dates and events. It’s really about helping students understand the narratives of the past and how they fit into the ongoing narratives today. In doing so, they hope that students develop their critical thinking skills and empathy, learning how to navigate different ideas and opinions, and understanding why other people might have differences in these areas. Additionally, they want students to develop a theologically robust understanding of anthropology, sociology, and axiology.
To this end, the History teachers employ some very creative classroom strategies and lessons. This year, students have held a food fair using ingredients from only one half of the world, they put Genghis Khan on trial, held a Constitutional Convention simulation, and war-gamed the 1453 Siege of Constantinople. Later this year, the teachers plan to have their students attempt to stop World War I, write an alternative US Constitution, try out pre-industrial ways of making flour and gloves, read life advice from a samurai, and build a marshmallow tower in order to understand creativity and problem solving.
The History Department is chaired by Jason Wang, who came to Maranatha 5 years ago. Teachers Tyler Shattuck and Shea Harvey came to Maranatha 4 years ago. Alli Dobbs joined the team 3 years ago, followed by Robert Gonzalez this year. The department has a lot of "younger" teachers, each fun-loving and engaging. Sometimes described as a “lively crew”, this team is also serious about connecting the life of faith and the study of history and social science - a perspective you don’t encounter very often, even among Christians. This department has a few theologians, which equates to team meetings that are not only focused on history, but on the intersection between history and theology. Maranatha’s History Department covers a wide breadth of topics, from history to psychology, economics, and government, which allows this talented group of teachers to bring unique perspectives and passions to their department.
When they are not in the classroom, these teachers enjoy a variety - a wide variety - of recreational pursuits and hobbies. Mr. Wang says he doesn’t really have unusual hobbies, but simply enjoys spending time with his family, reading, listening to podcasts, and watching movies. Ms. Dobbs loves hiking, camping and backpacking, sharing that the Sierras are her favorite place to backpack. Mr. Gonzalez admits that people seem surprised when they find out how many animals he has at home. In addition to “normal” pets, he also raises chickens. Mr. Shattuck takes the idea of unusual hobbies to a whole new level. He confessed, “I don't have a TV. I have a flip phone (and I think everyone else should too). I think I may be the tallest handstand in the world (which is mostly a funny trick for putting my feet on the ceiling at parties). I love to sing sea shanties (with my students or at home). I write formalist poetry. I have an extremely low level of proficiency on the ukulele. I drive a 1963 Volkswagen. I love Gregorian chant. I enjoy grammar. Lastly, I would like to memorize all 150 Psalms.”
Tyler Shattuck and Robert Gonzalez were both contestants on “Jeopardy” (not at the same time). According to Mr. Gonzalez, this means their department has the highest “Teachers Who Have Appeared on Jeopardy” to Student ratio of any Maranatha department.