About Paul Ruiz-Requena

I am currently a graduate student at the University of Texas Arlington and a member of the history department’s transatlantic program. Before starting graduate school, I attended Lonestar Community College and transferred to Sam Houston State University, from which I graduated in 2014. As a historian, I am interested in political and cultural history and love to study transnational interactions.

My Teaching Philosophy

            I believe that true learning happens when students realize the importance of a subject and how it connects with their own lives. Students who discover the day-to-day applications of what they are being taught are more willing to participate in their learning. As a historian, I endeavor to bring attention to historical events created by the actions and inactions taken by people and institutions, as well as the beliefs that informed their decisions. My intention is to engage in conversations about the historical influence of the past and how it has led us to this precise moment in history. As a teacher, it is my goal to help students obtain the skill of historical analysis so that they can analyze not only the actions and influence of the past, but also the historical context of the present they live in. I want my students to be able to use historical context to analyze information so that they are better prepared to be conscious historical actors themselves.

            I am a proponent of active learning and the use of direct engagement techniques to encourage discussion on the issues presented by past events. As a graduate teaching assistant, I learned that the best way to immerse students is to expose them to primary documents and other materials from the time period they are studying. While lecture can offer explanations and fill in the larger picture, personal accounts and other material from the time period can perk students’ interest in historical events or figures. I am also a proponent of multicultural and transnational approaches, as they can help to complicate the accounts that nationally-bound histories present. Most of my preferred readings use transatlantic frameworks that show how national events can have transnational consequences. It would be impossible to adequately cover the abolition movement in the U.S. without linking it to its British counterparts and to the social and political impact that British emancipation of the West Indies in 1838 had on our country. My class activities and projects are meant to help students in learning how to use historical context through guided analysis in order to prepare them for the assessments that follow, which will let them prove that they can do it on their own.

            After taking my course, I want students to realize that the past is a constructed narrative and that the fabrication of memory is an ongoing process that they themselves are a part of. The lesson I seek to impart upon them is that the past affecting them today is the result of decisions made by imperfect historical figures with their own set of beliefs and ideas. The aim of my in-class discussions is to stir students into questioning the narratives that surround them through the use of historical thinking. My hope is to show them how they can use the skills they learn from me to critically assess the motivations and impact of not only past events, but of the things occurring all around them in their present lives. I believe that history is more than just about memorizing facts and that it is a complex subject that has much to offer to both majors and non-majors. Whether a large class or a small one, the best way for students to learn what history has to offer is for them to engage directly with it.