My daughter may have learned more from me than I thought I was teaching. The other day, hands on her hips, she asks me, “But why do I need to know history at all?”
Arguments of American students in general do not know history were not going to work. There had to be a reason for it – a good one. Because that’s how we structure our homeschool. We remove anything that we don’t like that is unnecessary.
But as I explained to my daughter, we can’t lump history into that unnecessary pile.
I find it slightly ironic that someone who likes to ask the question “why?” so much didn’t see the necessity of this point. History answers a lot of the why questions about people and places. It explains some of the more current concerns and problems we might be dealing with.
It could potentially help you figure out how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work with just teaching a few people history.
“You’re going to vote in a few years!” I told her. “And I wouldn’t be a good parent if I didn’t teach you at least some basic facts about what went before you so you can make good decisions.”
That didn’t seem to convince her. Or perhaps it did because that conversation ended there.
Truth and Perspective
But I think my daughter did hit on something quite important. History is one of my favorite subjects to teach and we love it so much, our entire curriculum is fairly history-centric – even Science.
But by history, I don’t mean we engage in hero worship. We memorize facts and don’t shy away from discussing current events with the children. Our written curriculum often remains just the tip of the iceberg because we bring everything into conversation – even so-called “fake news.”
And while that doesn’t sound like much, let me mention that in the last month, I spoke to two very well meaning, wonderful people who had no historical perspective. One held the official view of history through her public school textbooks (and by extension television) and the other told me with a straight face that he got his history and current affairs education through pop singers and their music. (No, I’m not making this up.)
So here’s maybe the straight answer. We study history to understand that truth exists, but we have to often search for it. It is important to get perspectives, read source documents. We have to think.
We cannot depend on half bites of information, masticated and manipulated by others for our consumption.