How do we teach history?

The letter to the curator of Baron Von Munchaussen Historic Home reminds me of the entertainmentality of a historical location. Prior to reading the curator’s response I questioned how would displaying the facts versus the “this coined the phrase” impact the guest attendance to the historic home? Although I was not fond of her response I can understand the difficulty in teaching this concept to younger children. These excuses, however, should not stand in the way. We discussed in Dr. Gill’s Race, Class, and Ethnicity class last fall how do we deal with topic of race? It is very difficult to teach the younger generation about the separation in race and class that exists today because we teach them at a young age this happened in the Civil War and 1960’s and we fixed it. Smoothing out the hard edges of history places makes it difficult, in my opinion, to defend the historian’s argument “we must know about history to move forward with our future.” If we teach that law resolved all the issues of the past how can we possibly continue to write law? But then again how do you teach the younger generation when their required text books with misleading information tainted by an extremely bias group? Or your parents take you to workshop educating you on the founding fathers having the answers to all current day issues. (which fascinates me that “states rights” states find founding fathers, who have no idea on the current state of the local affairs, would be so inspired to correct their states flaws!) It appears to me that when it comes to the teaching accurate information you must teach research concepts. Teach the public to ask questions, to be skeptical of all you hear. This may sound pessimistic, but I think questioning leads to the research. Curiosity will lead a person to find what they want to hear and they may stumble across contradictions. In an attempt to save the guest list of a historical location without offending your patrons try to encourage questions. Do not merely ask “are there any questions” but seed the questions, offer websites, or apps to give them a jump start. Teach the public to not be spoon fed history, but find out for themselves. This may be fair compromise while keeping the ethics of historian intact.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *