Saturday, October 6, 2007

Genealogy and History Thoughts - Column Three

Has anyone ever had an experience where history became something more than just a bunch of dry facts or something that happened to people in the past? What I mean when I say, "where history became something more," I mean, has anyone had an experience where history came alive and felt real for a moment or at least did not feel as distant as at other times?

During this past summer, I was browsing through an old newspaper from an ancestral county, when I came across a newspaper article on the Missouri Compromise. As I read the column, history suddenly came alive for me. It wasn't just a feeling where I thought, "Hey, I learned this in school," but it was also a sense of a close connection. It actually felt as though it had meaning for me. (I realize this sounds weird, but I can't explain this any better.)

After I stopped browsing the newspaper, I started to wonder if history could be made more interesting to people not interested in history. Would many more children find history more interesting if their teachers brought in some original documents or had them do their family history as a project? From my understanding, many students find history boring and I think part of the reason is as a result of how history is taught. Would a change in teaching style or presentation style make history more interesting? I'm not sure, but I am worried by the failure of many Americans to remember their country's history.

What do you think? Please feel free to leave a comment.


Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I agree with you. American history didn't come alive for me until I started researching my family history. Also through family history I've learned a lot that wasn't covered in any history class that I took.

Craig Manson said...

I agree, too. That's why I've always said "history is personal." Take the Missouri Compromise (for instance)! If you have ancestors who were in Missouri or Kansas from the 1820's on, then the Missouri Compromise had a direct effect on them, as did the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act. One can learn a lot of history by studying genealogy!

Terry Thornton said...

Great post --- good point --- poor history instruction makes for dull students! I think one of the reasons why the oral history projects inspired by the Foxfire books were such great success stories was that the students were learning history from real people who remembered their very real experiences. That entire series was based upon the work of 9th and 10th grade students and one inspired teacher in the mountains of Georgia. History should become alive for us all!

Jesica, please check post about Jessica's Genejournal at Hill Country also (I can't find an email address for you so forgive this personal message).
Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi