Can you really teach history by avoiding everything complicated or controversial? Is history not complicated, at its very essence? With nations being conquered and drastic changes to whole-of-population livelihoods and lifestyles, I would say history is anything but simple. If you tend stay away from hot button topics, please allow me to explain why teaching complicated history is important in your homeschool.
In my very first sentence, I asked if we could even teach history by avoiding everything complicated or controversial. The answer to that is an undeniable, yes, yet we are doing our children a huge disservice in not doing so.
I remember getting one side of history in public school. It was dry as day and I think some of that could have been avoided if we were told the truth about things — how it actually happened. I was quite disappointed when I learned, as an adult, that history was painted with a certain stroke in my schooling.
For instance, our teaching of Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of America never mentioned that Native Americans thereafter were put in blockades so that their homes could be raided. I didn’t know they were removed from their homes with the Indian Removal Act of 1830. This is a different picture than the classic ones we were taught about Indians when I was in school.
Even when it comes to teaching our kids the historical events of the Old Testament, things may seem too intense for our students, but it isn’t.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
Teaching our kids about the long-lived Israeli-Palestinian conflict is significant for Christians as God’s Word clearly teaches that, although he has promised the land to the seed of Abraham, the Palestinians will remain until he sees fit. He will use it for His glory, no matter how bad it gets in our lifetime.
Teaching about biblical history, no matter how extreme it may seem, helps students understand who God really is and why he brought His son to die for our sins. Biblical history tells us about Jesus from the beginning.
Teaching complicated history produces well-informed and well-rounded students who are ready to face the complicated world we live in. It’s not easy to tell the truth about the horrible times some people once faced in history, but it encourages awareness of the world around them.
Tips for teaching complicated history in your homeschool:
- Be transparent about the goal of teaching complicated history. Let kids know that not everyone is taught both sides of history. What some countries chose to do, including our own, may not have been the right thing to do. Help them understand the choice and alternatives.
- Teach about historically complicated events that may pique your student’s interest. History is not everyone’s favorite subject, but teaching about historical events that get kids interested can make a huge difference. If your child is interested in adventure and the Asian cultures, the nomadic conquerors named Mongolians have an amazing history for your kids to study. It was believed there was no European army that could match them during their time.
- Use multiple resources instead of or alongside textbooks. Textbooks and curriculum are great, but they often tell history with one vision or perspective, leaving out important views of the same historical events.
Here are a few complicated teachings about history that are important for our kids to know:
The Holocaust is a complicated history important for us to teach.
Studies have shown that 22 percent of millennials don’t know or aren’t entirely sure of what the Holocaust even was. Exposing out kids to the happenings of Auschwitz, the largest of the German Nazi concentration camps and extermination centers where over 1.1 million men, women, and children were massacred, reminds students of the importance of living in a democratic society. NOT for the faint of heart, yet still should be taught.
Note: Professional Holocaust educators use the phrase “safely in, safely out,” in regards to teaching the Holocaust. This means that we end the teaching with a message of hope or show how small actions can make a BIG difference.
The Attack on Pearl Harbor is a complicated history important for us to teach.
The Japanese government attacked America in Hawaii largely in response to one of the worst civil rights abuses of the 20th century. The United States ordered 117,000 Japanese Americans to give up their homes, jobs, and businesses and relocate to internment camps as the government cited national security to justify the actions. We learn and commemorate Pearl Harbor without discussing the complications surrounding it.
The Cold War was a complicated history important for us to teach.
It as developed after World War II between the United States and the Soviet Union, including their respective allies. The Cold War began with political and economic issues, as well as a host of propaganda.
Students need to know that without an unveiling of the true events, they cannot distinguish facts from opinions, to learn how to detect bias, prejudice, and stereotypes. It is fair to teach your children that several perspectives, points of view and understanding is very possible when it comes to history.
The Cold War: The 20th Century (Primary Source Readers)Everything is Normal: The Life and Times of a Soviet KidThe Russian Revolution – History Books for Kids | Children’s HistoryA Brief History of RussiaHistory Of Russia For Kids: A History Series – Children Explore Histories Of The World EditionThe Cold War Explained: Pocket History for Kids
Civil War is a complicated history important for us to teach.
The Civil War is such an interesting war to study. It was in our own country; it involved civil rights, the end of slavery, and the federal government was considered tyrannical for the confederates. I mean, this was epic.
Learning about the Civil War is a crucial part of American History that changed the lives of half the population of people. The end of the war is interesting in that the American government decided not to prosecute the soldiers or leaders of the opposing side, as to bring healing to the nation as a whole. It reminds me of how our current societies are making a clear divide yet once again.
9/11 is a complicated history important for us to teach.
Why 9/11 would be absent from our history curriculum is beyond me. I am from New York and was in the United States Navy during the 9/11 Attacks and through the War in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom.
I do have to teach my kids about this and thankfully there is a wide range of material out there that can help us teach about this very recent and very necessary lesson for our children. Many of us choose not to teach this because of the fear and complexity of what happened.
Teaching your children about 9/11 brings an opportunity for citizenship education, exploring critical thinking skills, open engagement in dialogue with your kids, understanding how it brought our country together, and learning about how global conflicts can develop into personal connections. Each one of us has a story about exactly where we were when it happened, and our firsthand experience is one that our kids will appreciate. Teaching about 9/11 is a non-negotiable for my kids.
Sirius, the hero dog of 9/1110 True Tales: Heroes of 9/11 (Ten True Tales)A Place of Remembrance, Updated Edition: Official Book of the National September 11 MemorialI Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001 (I Survived #6)
We are in the days when people protest statues deemed offensive, even though they are of historical significance. We are in the days where monumental historical achievements have been made in a presidential term, yet the times are deemed as damning due to political opinion. We are, in fact, living in a more than complicated historical time and that is just in our own nation.
Life is complicated and just like the history of our world, there will be different causes, different effects, and different reasons for the outcomes that shape nations.
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!
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