History Ramblings

Spring 2009

Spring 2009

I love history. I always have. I know that not everyone does, but for me it is all about the stories. Too often, I think people think that history is just boring dates and other things that you had to memorize to pass a test. But it is oh, so much more than that.

It looks like Jason has developed a love of history. While my main interests run mostly with Revolutionary War and Civil War era history, his tends more towards ancient history (especially ancient China, Egypt and Japan). He has learned tons from playing Age of Empires. I have been amazed at how much real history is incorporated into the game...he is constantly coming to ask me if something (such as the Janissaries of the Ottoman Empire) were real. Most of the time when we look it up, it was. AOE has served very much as a jumping off point to additional shows and history books to fill in the spaces.

I am amazed at how much we have been able to learn from shows on the History and Discovery Channels. Jason's interest in history actually started when he was around 5...we were on the Discovery Channel website looking up information on the Crocodile Hunter and they were promo-ing a show on King Tut. Jason was fascinated with the pictures and we watched the show. We spent most of that year on Ancient Egypt, and he still goes back to it often.

I have found that mythology is a good "hook" when it comes to history and we have read a lot...chinese, japanese, greek, roman, norse etc. Again, it is the stories that lead to the learning about the culture. Another big hook for Jason has been wars and battles. He loves ancient weapons, halberds and the like (one of the reasons that Age of Empires appeals to him is that he builds and commands ancient armies).

Jason and I have been recently enjoying delving into my favorite era...the Revolutionary War. It started when I was watching The Patriots dvds I had bought for myself. The reenactments drew him in and he started watching them with me. Kyle has been spending Fridays at a friend's house where they do math together, so I have been taking advantage of this time with Jason to watch history dvds. We just finished the HBO mini-series John Adams and are now watching The Presidents series. Jason really seems to enjoy them and we have really interesting discussions.

Jason really wants to find something that discusses the Revolutionary War from the British point of view. I swear that I seen a program like that on either the History Channel or the Discovery Channel, but I have not been able to find anything online or on Netflix. If anyone knows of a resource let me know!

Another thing that has worked to bring history to life is historical fiction. When Jason was younger and did not show much interest in American History, I read books like Ben and Me and Mr. Revere's Horse. We have read stories set on the Lewis and Clark expedition as well as the first circumnavigation of the world. Lots of good stuff out there. The History of the World series is good in that it mixes stories with history. We have also found The Story of US very interesting as well (we have read parts of it so far).

I also make sure to talk about how you really can not have history with out some sort of bias. Not always a bad thing, but something to always keep in mind. I try to find books that present the same subject from different points of view. My personal view is that it is best to read from a variety of sources.

Anyways, just felt like rambling on a little bit about history because I am really enjoying it lately with Jason.