Connecting children with history
My two oldest children arrived home from school the other day, complaining about their lesson.
Both were forced to sit through a boring film about the Halifax Explosion. I asked them about it, but all they’d say was that it was boring and that it took up an entire class. I reminded them about the impact that one event had on several communities in our province, but they weren’t interested in hearing about it.
They had already heard too much over the years, so to them, it was the same old material replayed.
I began to wonder how my kids and other young people might get excited about history that shaped their country.
There’s a lot of tough competition out there for their attention. Video games, television and computers are “way more fun” than learning about history.
Actually, I don’t have to try too hard with my kids. They probably know more local history than most kids living in Atlantic Canada because they have a mother who’s a history nut, one who drags them to significant locations with blockhouses, lighthouses and forts. They also have a general interest in history that is all their own.
For example, my son, the one who can’t sit still long enough to write a five-sentence paragraph, can sit quietly for an hour, learning about the passenger liner RMS Carpathia. That’s one of the ships which helped pluck Titanic survivors from the frigid waters of the Atlantic. The ship was later sunk by a German U-boat.
My son has a rich database regarding marine history, with connections to both Atlantic Canada and around the world.
I can thank Clive Cussler, James Delgado and Mike Fletcher for this. Their show, The Sea Hunters, brings together historical events, personal experiences and adventure. The fact that it glues an 11-year-old to the television for an hour is amazing. He’s not only learning about the ship, but the people who were once on board. Whenever I can, I connect the show with our family. For example, while he watched the episode on Juno Beach, I told him my father’s brother was there that day in June 1944.
The key to exciting children about history is to add something they’re already interested in. My son loves a mystery, so waiting for the conclusion on The Sea Hunters is perfect for him.
My daughter loves to read. She began reading the Dear Canada novels in Grade Two. Each book follows a fictional character through an actual event in Canada’s history. If a horse is somehow involved, my horse-loving daughter devours the book.
The Dear Canada series is bound to connect with every Canadian family in one way or another. The hardships of war, disasters, immigration and expulsions are seen through the eyes of the young girls writing the diaries. They see life differently than adults and express fears in ways that leave a lasting impression on young minds.
To learn more about these series, visit their websites: Dear Canada Series (http://www.scholastic.ca/dearcanada/books/) and Our Canadian Girl Series (http://www.ourcanadiangirl.ca/).
Diane Lynn Tibert is a freelance writer who’d rather see her children scrambling through the doors of Fort Anne than the gates of Disney World. Submit a query. It’s free!: RR#1 Milford, Hants County, NS, B0N 1Y0; email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Diane’s website (http://www.thefamilyattic.info/Roots.html).