Sunday, October 3, 2010

GeorgeWashington You might have noticed that we don’t focus much on history here. First of all, I believe that the whole notion of history is a bit much for children who don’t even fully understand how long one year is. But there is also another reason. Imagine that one fine day you wake up and find out that your history changed. George Washington was a cruel and deluded man, Abraham Lincoln only cared of destroying South, and American pioneers went west just so they could kill off Native Americans and get rich (well, maybe the last one is not so much of a stretch).

That’s what happened to me when I was in the last year of school and Gorbachev came to power. Suddenly at the age of 17 I found out that a lot of things that we were taught as one and only truth were actually invented by the victors of the era. My father had the same experience at his 17 where Stalin’s personality cult was toppled. My grandparents, however, lived through all this “invented history”, and their friends and family were dying for this lie that was their only sacred truth.

I never liked studying history. Don’t get me wrong – I like history books, I like reading about great explorers, scientific discoveries and even about dark times like wars and inquisition. But I don’t like “interpreted history” – modern texts explaining why things happened the way they happened. We don’t know “why” – we can only offer our best guess that is colored by our current reality. To me history is very close to religious texts. The experiences of the past give us guidance for the future, but they are not precise. They can also lead us astray in a major way if we continue to fight the battles of our ancestors instead of finding the road to peace for the future generations.

10 comments:

Eva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MaryAnne said...

Excellent final sentence. I think it's always important to remember that history is exactly that - His Story.

Infant Bibliophile said...

Interesting post. History is tricky, for sure. I like to introduce little tiny bits as we do our geopuzzles, and even that is difficult. I think the more simple you try to make it, the more inaccurate, because the world isn't black/white. As a funny aside, when we play our version of trivial pursuit - using the board and the pieces but making up our own questions - history is always the hardest subject for my son to understand how to think of questions for. He usually says something like, "What happened when you were a little girl?" And I answer something like, "Umm, I was born?" and he says I am correct.

Debbie said...

I liked MaryAnne's comment about history being His Story, that is so true. This has always been a big problem area for me with the schools and text books, they usually only look at the one side or His Story version. I believe history can be taught in a very different manner especially now days when we are able to research and find both sides to most of the topics we find in history. A good strong history curriculum should in my opinion contain both sides, since nothing is as black and white as our history books from our school years always made it out to be.

Thank you for writing this post, I agree with every point you made. That is why right now we pretty much stick to geography and will look further into history at an older age.

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

Good points! I think it's important to take history lessons with a grain of salt, and remember that there is usually another side to the story.

Christy said...

I love Valerie's comment. I originally tried to include a little history in our geography studies, but like you said, when it is difficult to understand how long one year is, it is very difficult to understand history.

Very interesting post. I never thought much about how strange it would be to wake up to find out that what you thought was true, suddenly isn't.

Sarah Christina said...

*APPLAUSE*
Bravo!
Yes, yes, and YES!!!
Thank you for being wise and following your wisdom with how you guide your daughter!
:)

Ticia said...

So you know I'm a huge history fan, and I haven't seen the drastic changes you've talked about, but I have seen different revisions and seen it in some of the books I've found for my kids.

But, I also think there are great lessons to be learned form history and at this point for my kids I'm not trying to go into how long ago something happened, just that it happened. I think that is helpful for them because it gives them information to have about the world. As they get older I'll start concentrating less on the stories and more on the dates, but we're not there yet.

But, I can see how all of that would taint your view of history.

Kim said...

This is such a great post. If I were you, I wouldn't take history too seriously, either. Versions of history vary in the US too. My husband is from Texas, and I'm from the northeast. The way we were taught about the Civil War was drastically different. Really interesting and really disturbing sometimes. I read somewhere that kids don't really understand history until the age of 7 or so, which makes sense to me, so I don't teach history, per se. I do talk about old fashioned things, and show him how objects and behaviors have changed over time. We're starting to read a book similar to the Little House on the Prairie, and I'm explaining how things were different. But we won't start a real history program for years. And I'll have to keep your post in mind when we do start.

Pathfinder Mom said...

I agree. We haven't done much with history and are just now starting to explore how things have changed over time. It has been eye opening for me just reading things about history (without sharing them with TB). I've quickly found that I was taught a very sanitized version of history in school.