History Zara Akhtar's Digital Portfolio


  • Zara Akhtar
  • Camilla Hagevik, Diana Omemehin, Jeremy Jesudasan
  • March 24th - April 3rd, 2017
  • AOK Badge: History
  • Storytelling Techniques and History

Journal 3/24/17

We want to focus on the essential question "Is history meant to teach us lessons based on the “mistakes” of the past?" Our idea is to show the effects of hindsight bias and how we think that we understand the mistakes of the past but we might not always. We tell ourselves that we understand the mistakes, but when we're faced with a similar situation we don't realize that we should draw from those mistakes to make the correct decision. The mistakes of the past are hard to apply to modern times because of our hindsight bias. Our main point is in theory, history should teach us lessons based on the mistakes of the past, but because of hindsight bias we might not be able to always apply them to our current situations. We want to do a skit where we show this idea on a small scale. We'll have a scene where a mother tells her child about the mistakes of her ancestors. Then the child is faced with a similar situation but does not realize it, and only after she makes a decision she realizes that she should've drawn on the lessons her ancestors taught her.

Journal 3/28/17

What is the main point you want to make in your presentation?

The main point that we want to focus on is how different adaptations of history lead the reader to make different opinions. The way that history is written is a contributing factor to the reader’s opinion about the matter. In our presentation, we are going to compare two different books recounting the events that led up to and happened during the civil war. The way the two books are written affects what the reader thinks, and leads them to form an opinion based off of the text. One text tells the history in a narrative form, and focuses on the drama of history to tell it as a story. This makes it a little bit more interesting and draws the reader in, as well as giving the big picture. Bruce Catton, the author, writes about the war generals, like Grant and Lee, and mainly focuses on the upper class. Howard Zinn, the other author chooses to write about the black people and the average worker's every day life. He also focuses a lot on the details, and doesn't write in narrative style. He gives the reader all the information, but doesn't draw the connections for them like Bruce Catton does.

Journal 3/30/17

What is your main goal for this presentation?

I think that my main goal for this presentation is to be able to effectively communicate what I’m thinking without stuttering or backtracking too much. Sometimes you have to express information on the spot in a presentation, and when that happens I tend to get nervous since I haven’t prepared (and there’s no way I can). I want to be able to formulate my sentences spontaneously and not be at a loss for words.

Journal 4/3/17

I think that it was interesting that we had to put our badge project into the TOK presentation format. Our wasn't exactly in that format to start with, so we struggled a little bit with understanding what goes where. We also struggled with branching out and finding other real life situations where our main point and question applied. We wanted to relate to other AOK's, and ended up choosing the human sciences. We related it to psychology first. When reading studies, sometimes the narrative style of writing is more effective in getting the point across to the reader. When presented with too many details, the reader gets lost in the information and loses sight of the main idea. Then we went into economics.Economists such as Adam Smith and John Keynes used various storytelling techniques to communicate their theories with other economists.

Three knowledge questions I encountered:

  • Is history meant to teach us lessons based on the “mistakes” of the past?
  • Are good historians good story tellers?
  • What is the relationship between history and memory?

Elective Reading

Texas Matters: The Slocum Massacre - An Update

Essential Question: What is the relationship between history and the language through which it is conveyed?

I found this elective reading very interesting, as it covered a massacre which I had never heard of. It discusses different sides and views of the Slocum Massacre, which took place in Texas and involved armed white men shooting and killing dozens of unarmed black men. It makes sure to show different viewpoints of people, and how the lack of evidence leads some to believe that it didn't occur at all. Some believe that it wasn't even racial, that it was just a dispute between the blacks and whites and didn't have anything to do with race. It has been kept out of Texas history textbooks and the public education system does not cover it while covering other Texas history. People claim that the white people were panicking because they believed that the blacks were going to stage an uprising and kill all the whites. If you were to read two different accounts of what happened that day, you would have very conflicting opinions. If a white person wrote the account, they would write it in such way that you would believe that the whites were in the right. If you read a black person's account, you would believe that the blacks were in the right. This leads back to the presentation that one group did, that involved two different versions of the Boston Massacre. The British used such language that led one to believe that the British were provoked and were in the right, while the American version made it seem as if they were the victims and were unreasonably fired at.

Extension Proposal

Ted Talk by Manuel Lima: A Visual History of Human Knowledge


How does knowledge grow? Sometimes it begins with one insight and grows into many branches; other times it grows as a complex and interconnected network. Infographics expert Manuel Lima explores the thousand-year history of mapping data — from languages to dynasties — using trees and networks of information. It's a fascinating history of visualizations, and a look into humanity's urge to map what we know. This ted talk gives a very interesting discussion about human knowledge and it's history. It is valuable and should be added to the elective readings because it challenges our current ideas of mapping knowledge.

Badge Project Presentation

Badge Project Presentation in TOK Presentation Format

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