George and I are watching the Ken Burns Civil War Series. For those who don't know, George has a college degree in History. In comparison, I was apparently mentally absent for each and every history lesson I ever had from kindergarten through college. I have vague memories of studying certain topics, but the details are completely lost to me. This has become apparent as we watch these films, and I realize that I recognize names of people and events, but I have no context for them. I can't keep all the people, places, dates and events straight in my mental time line. (George was surprised to discover that I don't even have a mental time line like he does.) I make George pause the movie to ask him questions, and he is surprised every time that I don't know or understand what he does.
I am really enjoying this series of documentaries, and I recommend them to anyone, either as a good review of the Civil War, or as a completely enlightening education experience (like my own). This experience has also made me wonder how I can encourage my children to learn about history. How can I make them understand that history is not just dates in an "overly huge and boring" text book that an unenthusiastic history teacher is making them read? How can I encourage them to actually learn the details, instead of studying them for the test and immediately forgetting them, like I did? How can I get them to not only learn about it, but to find it interesting and important to know? Is it possible for my childred to love it, like their dad does?
George's answer is to give them lots of books. I believe him because that was his experience, and he loves history. I just don't want my little boy to have my experience, and then to have to admit, as a 28-yr-old adult, that you can't place the people and events of the Civil War.