By now, most Connecticut History Day students have chosen a topic and are in the throes of research. It's important to make sure your students stay focused and ensure their project relates to the 2019 National History Day (NHD) theme of Triumph & Tragedy in History.
One way to help students make the connection between their research and the NHD Theme is to remind students' of the definitions of each word.
Triumph: A victory or conquest by or as if by military force of notable success.
A triumph is an achievement and has impact, but encourage students to think beyond military history. There are many examples of triumphs in environmental, scientific, legal, cultural, political and artistic history. It is important to remember is that a triumph is not always a positive event.
Tragedy: A disastrous event.
Tragedies can be man-made or natural disasters. But more than likely, a tragedy is the result of the actions of people. Students should ask themselves: Who was impacted by the tragedy? Why was it a tragedy? What caused the tragedy?
The two most frequent questions we hear about this year's theme of Triumph & Tragedy in History are:
The majority of topics will have elements of triumph and tragedy in them, but those elements are often not 50/50. The theme words do not have to be treated equally in a project. Additionally, students should follow the history with the 2019 NHD theme. In other words, it does not matter the order in which they address triumph and/ or tragedy.
Students might not yet know how their topic connects to the theme but those connections will become clearer as students keep researching. It is important that students look at one event from multiple points of view. A triumph for one person or group can often be a tragedy for another.
Have them consider how triumph leads to tragedy or how tragedy leads to triumph. For many topics, the triumph and tragedy was most likely caused by the actions of people. Students need to ask questions about who and why. As students make the connections between their topic and the theme of Triumph & Tragedy in History make sure that they avoid “what-if” history and instead show their topic’s impact.
In a decade of working with NHD, one of the things I notice most frequently is that students fail to make a clear connection between their projects and the NHD annual theme. Sometimes theme words are used in a cursory fashion, but it’s important that students clearly show the connection and make that argument easy for a viewer to understand.
Information courtesy of NHD in Minnesota, written for Connecticut History Day by Rebecca Taber-Conover, State Coordinator.