Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Studying History and Liking It

 Safety Guy at Fort Stanwix, NY, 2010

I've always loved history.  I was the kid who would read encyclopedias for fun.  I enjoyed history classes in school.  I read ahead in the textbook, because I liked the subject matter.  My parents had something like 20 years of National Geographic magazines in the basement, and I used them as my own personal history and nature library.  Favorite issues got reread many times (especially the ones about Pompeii).  After waffling through several majors in college, I ended up as a history major.  I still read books about various topics and personalities in history for pleasure.  So, it's not surprising that I really enjoyed teaching my own children about history when we were home schooling.  What really thrills me, though, is that Safety Guy has apparently picked up my love of history for himself.

I'm really excited about his ongoing interest in history.  So many students have no interest in the past at all, but he's always been receptive to learning about history.  I just had to "pitch" it to his interests to catch his attention.  Want to study the opening of the American West?  Let's look at the expansion of railroads.  What about the Civil War?  Don't forget transportation and industrialization.  The Industrial Revolution was easy - inventors and inventions were a natural bridge to other issues.  He's been interested in shipwrecks from every era for years, and that has led us from ancient Rome to World War II and everywhere in between.  This April is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and he's already renewing his interest in that famous disaster.  He likes classic and retro TV and music, and that's led him to take books about more recent history (the later 20th century) out of the library.

I'm fortunate - my husband enjoys history almost as much as I do, and we've been taking the kids to museums and historical sites since they were born.  And, what's even better it that they LIKE visiting these places most of the time.  Historical sites and living history museums are great for family outings.

This week he's revisiting World War II, through a program called WWII in HD, which combines old documentary and news footage with interviews.  It's pretty graphic stuff at times, but he's older than the first time we went over this topic, and he decided on his own that he wanted to learn about WWII in more detail.  I'm glad he WANTS to know about these events from our history.  Today I told him the saying, "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it," then had to explain it to him.  I think it's exciting that he wants to know about these things.  Hopefully it will serve him well as he grows up and moves on in his life.

If nothing else, he'll be really good at older editions of Trivial Pursuit. . . .