Monday, August 4, 2014

His Story - Why Teach History?

"These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come."  
(I Corinthians 10:11)

"Ideas have consequences."
"No man is an island."
"If we do not know where we have come from, we don’t know who we are or where we are going."

These famous remarks all point out the fact that history — the story of God’s work in creation from the dawn of time until now — is a vitally important topic to study.

Think of how much influence one man, or one idea, or one invention has had on the course of human events! History is the study of these men, ideas and inventions, and opens the door to every other topic of study. No one is too young to enjoy the stories of history!

Reasons to Learn History
Consider the fact that a large portion of the Bible is history.  Think of all the verses admonishing us to tell others of the works God has done — more history.  In fact, our entire salvation depends on events that God performed in literal history!

History teaches us to learn from mistakes.  We look at the fate of the Israelites who grumbled against God and are warned by their punishment not to grumble ourselves.  Perhaps you have used more recent history to teach your children a lesson.  “Julie, when I was your age I lied to my mother about stealing cookies.  This destroyed her trust in me (not to mention earning a spanking!).  So you see lying and stealing have bad consequences.”

History inspires us to work for our dreams.  Through the ages, people have scoffed at ideas like telephones, trains, airplanes and space travel.  But the men and women who had these dreams persevered in pursuing them and many were granted success.  When I become discouraged or tired of doing right, I like to read a good biography.  The example of a great person’s life is an enduring inspiration to those who come after them.

And finally, history shows us that failure is not final.  Theodore Roosevelt was a sickly child but through hard work he built a body so tough that he could stand before an audience and give a speech while bleeding from a gunshot wound in the chest.  Thomas Edison failed 8,000 times until he succeeded in finding the right filament material for the light bulb.  When called on by the British to surrender in the War for Independence, John Paul Jones of the brand new American navy stood on the deck of his sinking ship and called out, “I have just begun to fight!”

Hands-On History
A great way to bring history alive with your children is to visit historic places, reenactments, and museums. Watching a battle reenacted illustrates how noisy and confusing it can be and we can better understand why soldiers didn’t always follow orders properly.  Visiting the recreation of a 1700s home makes clear why servants were so necessary — it was hard work just to cook a meal or clean the house without modern conveniences like electricity and running water!  Seeing a real Egyptian mummy or a bed that George Washington slept in brings the people of the past into the reality of the present.  One of my fun museum discoveries was a genuine blunderbuss (that’s a gun, for my fellow unenlightened females) — I had no idea how ridiculous and yet threatening such a gun looked in real life!  I can see why wild west stagecoach guards favored them in scaring off would-be attackers.

Another fun way to study history is to check out your own genealogy.  I have relatives who fought in both World Wars and the Korean War.  I have ancestor soldiers who fought on both sides of the War Between the States.  We are also proud of our ancestors who fought for independence in the War for Independence. I have to admit my interest in Russian history was sparked by finding out our family line traces through the royal czars of Russia.  Growing cotton became a more interesting subject when I discovered that my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather Roberts grew the first bale of cotton in Navarro County, Texas.  History is the story of ordinary people and it becomes even more exciting to find some of those people were your ancestors!

We Must Know History
God requires us to tell others of His marvelous acts.  How can we do so if we don’t know what His acts have been?  As we study history, let’s remember we are following the mandate in Psalm 78: “I will utter hidden things, things from of old—what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done….so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”

Written by Heather Sheen

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