Day 24: History

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

I apologize for the lateness of this post. I did not have internet yesterday and was unable to get my post up. You’ll be getting TWO posts today: yesterday’s and today’s!


 

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One of the greatest failures of our current public school system is the adequate teaching of history. I don’t recall learning much history in elementary school. We learned about the gold rush of California, the Spanish missions, the Mayflower and Christopher Columbus. I remember vaguely learning about Ancient Mesopotamia in sixth grade. In High School we learned about the industrial revolution, Napoleon, the french revolution, the kings and queens of England, Russian Czars and more. It seems to me that in every single year of school we learned about Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement of the 1960s—-not that it was unimportant, but it seemed as though it was the only bit of history that mattered to the school system.

I remember being on a walk with my dad during our study of France and he asked me, “Did they teach you about the June rebellion of 1832?”

“No…” I replied, a little uncomfortably.

He continued to pepper me with questions and I had few to no answers. I realized then how woefully ignorant I was about history. In eleventh grade I took AP US History. It was a joke. My teacher, while passionate about history, didn’t have a clue how to teach it. I learned as much as I could outside of class, but I was grossly underprepared for the exam. I failed the AP exam, which meant I had to take American History in college.

So, around my junior year at Cal Poly, I took a U.S. History course. Once again, I was let down. The professor was teaching a more modified history of the United States and focused more on social injustice than anything else. Oddly enough, I was reading one of the books and it sounded a great deal like the republican talking points of the present… but it was written in the 1960s. I told my dad about it. He chuckled and said the guy was a democrat in the 1960s, but our country had veered so much to the left that the conservatives were now where the liberals used to be and the liberals were now where the socialists used to be. I scraped an A in the class, but my piecemeal knowledge of history frustrated me greatly.

The curriculum we currently use for our kids starts incorporating history at the kindergarten level. My daughter, a first grader, is learning about Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt and in the next semester will be covering Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. I have learned a ton just by reading the books to her. We have an enormous canvas map hanging in our living room and my 4 year old can already point out the Himalayas, the Andes the Equator and China. I love that they have such a better feel at such a young age for geography and history than I did at that point in my life. I am looking forward to continuing to teach them about World History and Bible History. I get to learn right along side them. The curriculum also uses historical fiction books to bring each period to life.

I was fascinated to learn about Alexander the Great and the spread of the Greek language all the way to India. When Jesus died and the apostles began teaching the gospel and writing letters, the manuscripts were predominantly written in Koine Greek. This language was used not only in Rome, but in other parts of the world as well, allowing the gospel to spread more easily.

History is so vital to all people of the world. It angers me how often people try to distort it or erase it. ISIS has destroyed or defaced many Ancient Mesopotamian sites. The former Iranian president was a holocaust denier. There’s been a push to rewrite United States History. We are foolish to try to alter history and even more foolish if we fail to learn from it.

I am thankful that General Eisenhower told his troops to take tons of pictures of the German Concentration camps so that people wouldn’t forget the atrocities that man was capable of.

I am grateful that someone had the foresight to keep Manzanar in place on US Highway 395, so we would remember that we interned the Japanese during World War II.

The National Archives in Washington D.C. hold many of the original founding documents of our country. I am thankful for such a place that keeps our history alive.

I am thankful for biographies because not only do they document the life of an individual person, but they touch on the historical atmosphere swirling around that person and how they impacted it.

I am not a history buff, but I am grateful for history and all the men and women who documented the past. History tells us where we’ve been and gives us insight on human nature, the cycles of nations and the hand of God.

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4 thoughts on “Day 24: History

  1. Salvageable November 27, 2015 / 08:11

    Elihu,
    I agree with each and every thing you said. I was lucky enough to attend a high school with excellent history teachers, and then I minored in history in college. That made it possible for me to teach history to college students as an adjunct instructor, and I’ve had students tell me that I was the first history teacher that made them want to learn history. Part of my teaching philosophy is that there is no point memorizing names and dates that a person can look up easily; I want to explain the big picture so people will have a reason to look up the details and a context for interpreting those details. As a result, I might not mention specifically the French Revolution of 1832, but I will talk about the continuing unrest in France throughout that time period and have the students discuss why France was so unsettled for so long. (Then someone says that it sounds like Egypt or Syria today, and I know they are in fact learning.) Preserving the documents and artifacts of history is important, and I’m blessed to participate in that project in my full-time job. I’m thankful that people such as you are thankful for history, for historians and preservationists. As science shows us the brilliance of our Creator, so history shows us his grace and mercy, even in times of immense human evil. J.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elihu November 27, 2015 / 12:41

      Yes! That is the whole point of history—seeing the hand of our Creator! And being able to compare historical events is far more important than rote learning. Thank you for teaching the young adults who will be voting and participating in the future. God be with you and thank you for the excellent comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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