When the kids were in school I never heard much about History, I don’t know if it was because they don’t really teach it anymore because there is no History on the CSAP’s (Standardized Tests) or what, but the minute I started homeschooling 4 years ago, I was inundated with a chorus of “History is boring”, “It doesn’t affect me”, “Why do I have to know so many random names and dates” and so on and so forth. It was incessant, but it was my first year teaching and I wasn’t yet at the point where my confidence was such that I could pick and choose from the Seton curriculum that which I liked and that which I thought was absurd.
The following year all this changed. Call me uneducated, but I don’t care if my children learn about Greek History. I don’t care if they don’t know about the Aztec’s … if they need this in their future, I’m sure the Internet is full of educational research fodder. I scrapped all this malarkey. I keep American History, Government, and Geography — all geography. It is important that they know where Afghanistan is and Iraq and Israel and Iran and North Korea and everywhere in between. In fact, I take geography a step further than most. Every night (well almost every night) we play the travel game. We spin the globe and whoever is the travel planner for the evening closes their eyes and drops their finger on the globe. Wherever they land is where we “go”. If we land in the ocean we travel again until we hit dry land. We then Google the city and the country and learn about the people there. The language they speak, the geography of the land, the culture, the everything.
But history stumped me until this year. It was an array of memorization of names and dates and the writing was boring and adolescent. The textbooks were the worst, I was bored out of my mind and I actually like history, when it’s presented in an interesting way. That’s when it hit me. Kids hate history because of the way it is taught. Is it really necessary for my 8th grader to know who led a group of Puritans to Salem or is it more important to learn why? Is it more important for my 11th grader to know who The Committees of Correspondence were organized by? or what they were?
When we were in DC the kids were fascinated by the History Museum, they’ve read the personal stories of the Holocaust, word for word, line by line and they are intrigued by memorial sites like Bull Run and the Ludlow Massacre. It hit me then … kids love learning about history when we tell stories and make it relevant, real and human. When we tell them stories of actual people and how Jack Jouett single-handedly saved the American Revolution and the US as we know it, or the story of Tokyo Rose. History isn’t about filling in bubbles on a test, just like geography isn’t filling in all the rivers and mountain ranges on a blank map. History comes alive for kids when we make it about the people and their struggles and their triumphs. It’s about good vs evil and the true resolve of the strongest souls!
I was excited to have figured this out. It’s true for all school … kids hate irrelevance, monotony and busy work. Make it interesting and with a point and they are all over it. Immediately I changed our homeschool meaning of History Lessons. I vowed to not make my kids memorize things they’ll never need to know. I vowed to never make them memorize something they could easily find on Google in a matter of seconds. I vowed to make History come to them in ways they could appreciate.
I hit the world wide web in search of a curriculum that focused on the people of History and the why’s and how’s of the most incredible stories of our time. I found Glenn Beck’s book, Miracles and Massacres. We read it every other night. One story, 12 or so pages and the conversations it prompts are incredible. There are heroes and villians, triumph and tragedy-it’s so real and our kids are so responsive, I’m absolutely convinced kids universally hate history because of the way it’s taught.
Have you ever wondered why Marines are called leathernecks and what “from the shores of Tripoli” is derived from?
Miracles and Massacres reads like fiction, complete with dialogue that Beck himself clearly states contradict no known fact, but add to the delivery of the story, particularly for kids. It’s a classic book of unsung American Heroes that draws it’s stories from important events in American history, the events which changed American society or push history in a different direction than expected.
We give Miracles and Massacres a 5-star rating for it’s educational properties and it’s captivating story-telling! Great for family story time, to supplement a History Curriculum or to simply increase your History knowledge. We recommend it for kids 10 & up mostly because Cardy (10), listened attentively and had many questions throughout each story, but we lost Maddy (8) almost immediately every time!! Highly highly recommend this book!!!