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.
Tragedy: A disastrous event.
The two most frequent questions we hear about this year's theme of Triumph & Tragedy in History are:
- Do I need to have both triumph and tragedy in my project?
- Does triumph always come before tragedy?
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.