One day, I saw myself sitting in the examination hall waiting for the question paper to come. After some time, I saw my teacher, who was the strictest one, giving question papers to everybody. I too got the question paper, and as soon as I saw it, I was shocked to know that it was history. Oh my God! “I don’t know a single answer; how am I going to write the exam?” I exclaimed, stamping my feet. As I stampeded my feet, my eyes opened and I woke up from my sleep to know it was just a nightmare. Oh, it was such a relief.
Many of us must have gone through such a circumstance, as most of us were scared of history as children. Those dates, names of places where something happened, and names of people were no less than monsters, and we had to remember them as we had to pass the exam. That was the time when I used to think about how these past events are going to help in our future and why we have to go through all these stories. But stories always have a message to convey. As I grew up, I came to know the importance of history and also how it affects our lives when we know the past stories of our country and the world. When we know about our past, we can create a relationship between what we are now and where we are heading to.
The importance of teaching history
History has all kinds of stories in it; stories of joy and happiness, stories of success and defeat, stories of pain and sorrow, everything. It’s not about our past but to know what we were and how we were earlier, and sometimes we can create connections to understand why we are the way we are now.
It helps us to know about people who were normal human beings, who made mistakes and learned from them, who were good decision makers and the most lovable leaders. They were the people who created cities, canals, walls, equipment, houses, ornaments, etc. They came up with many innovative ideas and lived a royal life, but at the same time were ruined like dust.
History and kids
We all know that kids love to listen to stories. My son loves to listen to the stories of Akbar and Birbal. Sometimes he asks me, “Were they real people, ma?” And then I take him back to the history books to all the past events to help him learn about Akbar right from his birth. So how can history help with the growth of our kids? Let’s understand.
Know about their own country.
History, a record of past events, helps our kids to learn more about their own country. How was their country during the early period? How were the people? What was their way of living?
Learning from great leaders
Leaders are not the people who are always right, but those who learn from their mistakes. As we read the life stories of the great kings and rulers, we come to know that before being great, they too were normal, but the difference is that they made many mistakes and they learned from their mistakes. These mistakes lead them to the path of being great. So while reading the story of “Akbar the Great,” let your child know that before being great, how many mistakes he made, and how he got connected to the pains of people through these mistakes.
What will our kids learn through history?
- They will never hesitate to make mistakes or take risks. They would grow up making mistakes and improving on them.
- They will learn to lead others to show the right path to them.
- They would be able to connect with others’ pain and empathise and sympathise with them.
- They will learn to take decisions by analysing various facts and going through the trial-and-error method.
- They would learn to be creative and invent new things.
- They would learn to be strong when situations are not favourable.
- They would be curious and imaginative at the same moment.
How to teach history to kids
Going back to our childhood, we will come to know why most of us did not love history as a subject. It was only because of the way it was taught and written. At the same time, concepts were not broken into small and attractive pieces, and at the same time, the lecture method was the only tool that was used to teach history. But if we continue teaching history following the same pattern, our kids might also get bored of history.
We need to come up with new styles of teaching, i.e., breaking each concept into small and attractive as well as interesting stories. These short stories can be taught to kids using videos, story telling, or group activity methods. They can also be taken on field trips to historical sites where they can get first-hand knowledge rather than mugging it up from the books.
History means stories, and if it is taught as stories, our kids will definitely learn something out of it. So, rather than presenting it as a series of events, let’s break it down into smaller stories.