The Mountain Times

°F Thu, April 24, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Negotiators

In early February, Paul Andriscin, adjunct professor of History at Castleton State College and the College of St. Joseph, gave at PowerPoint presentation at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the Gotnick Center on the causes of the American Revolutionary War. He has a Master of Arts in American History from Norwich, which may explain both the depth of his knowledge and brevity of style. He covered contributing issues - the difficulty in communication, relationships with the Indians and the failure of British Parliament to understand the impact of the taxes they imposed on colonial commerce.

What struck me most was the impact of the British Army. Increasing costs from the Seven Years War (the first world war) made taxing the colonists necessary. As the size of the British Army increased to enforce these taxes they were quartered in colonial homes. Their background and training determined whether they would be good negotiators or further cause for conflict.

Who were these British soldiers? Recruited from the jails and streets of English cities - they were murders, thieves and rapists; brought with little or no training, into American homes. They were not suitable for negotiating.  Officers were as unsuitable as their men. The third and fourth sons of British landholders, without property themselves, joined the army, and were arrogant and demanding, viewing colonists as the lowest level of society. They were trained in military maneuvers but not in the management of people or reduction of conflict.

The PowerPoint used in the presentation made a statement. The professor's information and ideas were clearly understandable to the audience. It was an efficient way to present the material, particularly this historical material became the basis for discussions.

The audience at Ocher was very well informed, highly interested in the topic and in search of new answers and understanding; but unlike Andriscin's college students, not quite so quick with PowerPoint. After the lecture members of the audience gathered around the speaker and continued to explore some of his conclusions. If you were able enough with a computer you could follow clues given in the lecture and continue to explore. Clearly, the audience's thinking on the subject had been stimulated.

Paul Andriscin's PowerPoint presentation of "Homefront: World War II" will be rescheduled in the Commons at the Gables when the room is available for use again.

Tagged: Killington Art's Guild