If public schools were to suddenly shut down I know what I'd do.
First I'd do a happy dance!
(after a meltdown wondering if I was up to the change!)
My children are not excited about learning at all. They have no idea how many children in the world would thrive given half the chance at an education that they have. But that doesn't mean that they aren't capable of learning. They are wise and know that an education is NOT what they're getting. I don't believe that anyone is really to blame. It's just that the system I grew up in didn't work for me. Why would it be any different for them?
So Step #1 would be: STOP
Step #2 would be to pull out my 4 generation chart, a worksheet with 15 families of their ancestors. Maybe I'd have one of my kids close their eyes and point their finger on a spot. A family. We'd start there. Where they live. At that point and time in history.
I would love to know if anyone else sees the possibilities for an education based on family history?
Do you get excited as I get when I find myself learning about a time or event in history that I'm certain I was exposed to in school, but now feels easier to understand because I can see one or more of my ancestors living during that time? Do you find yourself reading a farm census of one of your relatives from the 1800's and get a clearer picture of what it meant to eke out a living as a farmer? Or what the cost of living or the lifestyle was? Or wondering about tractors and plows and other inventions and the inventors of that era? I do.
When I want to write a story about an ancestor I have to immerse myself in their life, not just the facts from census, marriage, birth, death and other available documents. I always end up asking a whole host of questions that lead me to be more educated about the time they lived in than I ever would have been unless I had a certain penchant for studying the history of their day.
Let me show you what I mean!
To make a very long story short here's a list of the topics I studied while putting together the story A Driven Man: Nature or Nurture :
- The Great Potato Famine 1850's / Ireland
- New York City 1850's
- Ellis Island
- Who were the steerage passengers of a ship. Why is it called "steerage"?
- Transportation in the US in the 1850's-60's
- Communication in the mid 1800's
- Telephone / switchboards / operators
- Logging in the Upper Midwest in the late 1800's
- Early railroad systems in Colorado
- Farming in Wisconsin 1860's
- Manifest Destiny
- Allopathic medicine
- Steam ponies
- Sol Duc Hot Springs
- American Savings Bank. Seattle / Bank director/ Stockholder
- Ferry service in Puget Sound
Believe me. The list goes on and on.
I have learned and retained more interesting things than I did in all 12 years of public school. The information was there. The teachers were qualified I think. But I was not engaged in learning. There was no time.
My mother kept a 5th grade report card of mine where I wrote,"This was the best year. I wish I could always learn this way." I remember that year vividly. We studied Eskimos, Indians, and baboons all year. We built huge dioramas, watched movies, read books, and worked as teams and sometimes alone.
There was time to let ideas simmer and percolate.
So why would I choose an education with family history as a foundation? Because it touches every part of life as we know it.
- The Arts
- Science / Technology
- Careers /Skills
- Math ( I ask, "What math skills did that trade require?" etc.)
I don't want to spend my life gathering facts and skills. I want to find out what makes me insanely happy so that I wake up every day to bliss. Exposure to the real world through family history, albeit dead and gone, connects me to the world I live in . There are new questions to be answered, and new ideas and problems to address. I will have received a foundation of the history of real people. I will have watched them find their own answers and form their own ideas. It will be a strong foundation. One that I can build on.
By finding them I will find myself.
- What type of education would you be drawn to if public school wasn't available?