Friday, February 13, 2009

A Little Bit of History

On my sidebar I have a list of books that I'm currently reading. One of those is Truman by David McCullough. Yes, the book is 993 pages of reading (not including end notes and the index). I thought it was going to take me a very long time to finish reading it, but I actually finished it yesterday afternoon! To be perfectly honest, last year I checked it out from the local library, but only got through the first 350 pages in about 6 weeks (I wasn't as committed then) and decided to return it and just buy it at some point.

Since one of my new year's resolutions was to read more and watch t.v. less, I picked up the copy I bought and started around where I left off - page 350. Until last week, I was reading around 100 pages a week, but something happened this past week and I had this incredible desire to read! Not only that, but if you have read anything by David McCullough you know that he makes history come alive. He is the author who wrote the biography on John Adams that HBO made into a 7 part mini-series.

Josh teases me that I'm a scholar on all things Harry Truman now, but while I'm no scholar, I certainly know much more about the former president and history in general from 1945 to 1952 (time period of Truman's presidency). In school, students learn history from reading a history textbook and memorizing a bunch of events and dates, but they don't understand history and 99.9% of the time fail to remember what they regurgitated on a test an hour later. When you read an intriguing biography on a great president then you understand why Truman was an incredible president and all those events make sense and you even remember when they happened - amazing!

We hope to home school our children and I'm determined that they learn history by reading it and engaging with it. There is merit to memorizing important events in history, but I think our methods should be fun, because history isn't boring! Okay, I'm getting off my soap box now!

Oh, just as an aside: since reading this book, I've been able to answer a couple of questions on Jeopardy that I wouldn't have known before - that has to count for something!

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