Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day, and, whatever you did, I hope you enjoyed it with the one you love most. With a husband out of town and an evening class to teach, it wasn’t the most romantic day for me, but I took chocolates to my students. My husband and I have laughed that with everything going on with our schedules, we might get to celebrate both Valentine’s Day and our anniversary, coming this week, in mid-March!
I have been meaning to share for a while now the kids’ rewriting of history. We are using Joy Hakim’s A History of US series, and thoroughly enjoying it. We use this text for written narrations, and though I’m not rewarded with artistic renditions every day, these were some of my favorites.
A number of Christians have issues with Joy Hakim’s work, as her history series is not presented from a Christian perspective. She uses Biblical doctrine to the extent that Christian theology is this country’s foundation, but her series begins with millions of years ago, etc., and she does not attempt to tie up everything that happened in this country with a lesson from the good news that is Jesus. Personally, I think all subjects, whether math, science, history, art, or music, should be presented to a child in light of scripture. He created it all, and all of it gives Him glory. However, I think that “kid-friendly” versions of history are lacking in the areas that make history rich, and that make history a powerful tool for learning. The Bible has wonderful stories with a great moralistic lesson (an understatement, for sure) at the end. Yet, it also tells stories of incest, molestation, rape, murder, and every type of sin known and unknown to man. God didn’t try to clean anything up—He laid it out and then gave us wisdom and discernment to understand it. Though I don’t subscribe to exposing children (especially small ones) to everything that is available to them, I think it sends the wrong message to children to present images of all-too-perfect heroes with all-too-perfect tales all wrapped up with a tiny little scripture and Christian happy ending. The great educator and philosopher W.E.B. DuBois said it in words far more eloquent than I could contrive:
One is astonished in the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmed over. We must not remember that Daniel Webster got drunk but only that he was a splendid constitutional lawyer. We must forget that George Washington was a slave owner . . . and simply remember the things we regard as creditable and inspiring. The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect man and noble nations, but it does not tell the truth.
I think about the controversial use of the “n” word and how today’s kids actually see it as a good thing to be described in such manner. Even white kids are referring to each other in this way, thinking that it makes them cool to be “down” with others who are misguided. I can’t help but think that some part of this warped and twisted thinking is a lack of understanding of the history of this word and the ramifications of using it to describe a people. Jesus commands the Jews in Deuteronomy 6 to teach their children of what God did for them, including the slavery, the cruelty, and the mistreatment. Glossing over the negative aspects of history doesn’t help anyone. In fact, it can be harmful. The poet and philosopher George Santayana makes a profound statement that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." If we are to do what Jesus did, then we must present truth with wisdom and discernment, and inspire our children that God and His vision for them to do greater works than Jesus Christ (John 14:12) is bigger than any imperfection that surrounds them.
From my son’s work:
When settlers had gotten to America, some Indians were friendly, some were not. The people learned not to associate with all Indians. A man named Wahunsonacock was very friendly to the newcomers.
This was my daughter’s narration:
Some people think that from first appearances, Native Americans are uncivilized and complete dumb-bunnies. Really, they aren’t. The Iroquois Indians have a government with laws. Not many Native American tribes have the full government, but all of them knew how to hunt and/or fish, farm, build things and defend themselves. The Scandinavian Vikings also found Native Americans in Canada, but on accident. The word Viking itself means sea raiders or pirates.