Why do we study history? Why have Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? We study history so we can learn from the past, right? Perhaps, but are we actually learning from out past? Do we actually learn from “mistakes” in history? This then begs the question “learned what?” Do we just learn about wars, injustices, famous people, inventions, immigration? How does this learning help us today or is it just factual knowledge we should know in order to be ‘good’ citizens?
I used to truly hate history. I found it boring and only did what I had to do in order to pass a ‘required’ history/ social studies class. However, years ago, through my church, I took a class from Jack Batson, a high school history teacher. His class forever changed the way I look at history. He took historical events and wove together the fabric of life during the time period or event we were studying. and put them into context creating an historical collage. Instead of studying an isolated event in history, we studied what was going on in the world and “why” this event happened. Now, when I teach history, I want my students to feel and understand – as much as is possible – an event – not just regurgitate facts and dates.
Take the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. Why study his life? Why was his life important? What was going on in the country that lead up to his assassination? How did all this happen? If we can get children – or adults – to understand why discrimination is wrong, do you think it would make a difference? Have you even been discriminated against? What type of discrimination or even segregation have they experienced, or have they? Explore this type of thinking with your students this week and let me know what happens!
Check back this week for more on history and Martin Luther King, Jr. Until then, take care!