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Tea Time: Training your decision-making skills through learning history

When I was a pre-college student (before attending the US college), I hated my history class. I had to memorize a huge amount of the names of historical figures, events, and years. I liked reading history books, but I couldn't accept the learning method in my Japanese high school days.

When I was a graduate student in the US, I took the course for history of American higher education. It was a life-changing experience. In other words, I learned how to (or how I should) learn history. Amazingly, professor did never have us memorize the historical facts in the textbook. Rather, we had to read the textbooks and discuss some historical events. And, professor often asked us so-called 'What-if' questions.

For instance, ...

'In the 1930s, James Bryant Conant, the Harvard President, introduced a meritocratic system to the US college education. If you were President Conant, what kind of meritocratic system would you have introduced to American college education?'

I noticed there were many 'What-If' questions and discussion in the classroom. Later, I realized this is a kind of training for judgment- and decision-making skills for the student. In fact, in my specialty, Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM), thinking of 'What-If' queries is one of the methodologies to build decision-making skills.

I'm not sure if my professor in education history class knew the training method for decision-making skills through history lesson. However, I'm sure this method is beneficial for anyone.


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