If you were to think on your favorite subject back in school, what would it be? Math? English? Science? If you ask Matthew what he likes best, he would say "History!" I find it actually very interesting that my kids like history so much. Me? I thought it was the dullest subject around. Reading about dead people who did things that happened in the past was not my idea of fun. Give me a math problem to solve or a lab to do. That was interesting!
But now that I've been homeschooling for 9 years, guess what? I have come to really love history too. Why? Because as we have studied ancient civilizations, eras and personalities, I have begun to see a story. In elementary school, I remembered studying about the Egyptians, but that was completely isolated from anything else. But history is not a bunch of isolated events, people and cultures. It is a tapestry, with each thread playing a part in the bigger picture.
This past year, Matthew and I have been studying the civil war. It has (pardon the pun) been a blast. We have enjoyed it so much that we really don't want to stop! And so even though it is the new school year, we are moving right along. The players, the drama, the story---all have been wonderfully rich and full of opportunities for discussion.
We talk about the character of Robert E. Lee. We talk about the faith of Stonewall Jackson. We talk about the foolishness in some battle strategies. All these have been food for rich conversation, discipleship opportunities abound. It's not that I am a Civil War buff. Far from it. I have just jumped into the study with Matthew and learned right alongside with him. I honestly can say that I have really loved learning this with him! I have plans this year to pick up where we left off in our study of American history, but we are taking our time. There is no rush.
What makes history such a fruitful study, especially if we look at it chronologically, is that we begin to see connections, and that as time marches on, all the things in the past impact the present that we know and live in. It also reminds us that history is still going on, and that one day, God willing, our children's children's children will one day look back and see the impact of our choices today in their lives.
History reminds me that you don't have to be the top dog to make a difference. As I read the biographies of ordinary men and women who have stepped up to the challenge (or not), my kids also realize that they have that same opportunity. What are they going to do with them? What am I going to do with the time given me?
And ultimately, as we read these stories, we begin to see the mighty plan of God, for all history, not just biblical history, is His. He is the one who brings one nation up and tears one down. He uses people to accomplish His will. Nothing happens by accident. Our times truly are in His hands and His will will be done.
As your children study history, I hope that you will take the opportunity to dig below the surface with them. Explore the people, the characters, that make up this story. How have their choices affected us today? Ponder the events, the decisions that they make. Look for the hand of God in all that happens.
And then with what you learn, let it impact your little piece of history that you leave behind.
Part 3 in the series, The Gift of Education.