History is great but not everything interests everyone

Yesterday, I shuttled a carload of middle school girls from Jackson to Rio Grande for a practice of Schoolhouse Scholars, a production created by the University of Rio Grande Performing Arts featuring memories of one-room schoolhouses in the Gallia and Jackson county areas.

The one conversation topic that involved me was the complaint that social studies is boring, but history is great.

I know the men who are the teachers for these girls. History interests both of these male teachers! These girls are obviously interested enough in history to take part in a theatrical performance about history. So what's the disconnect?

The girls said they don't like social studies because they never get to the end of the book. Hmmm.

All the social studies classes are about Babylonia, ancient cultures, blah, blah, blah, they said.

"We never get to the interesting stuff," one girl said."We never get to the end of the book."

"Yeah, what about the depression and all that stuff," said another.

"The boys don't understand why we say we don't like history. It's not that. History is ok. I'm tired of hearing about the same thing. Babylonia and all that ancient stuff. I mean the 9/11 exhibit at the museum was cool, and that's history," a third girl said, knowing that the museum director was driving the car!

I shared with the girls that they are not alone in their frustration. I remember myself being frustrated in my elementary years, focusing on the Indian spice trade routes and the 13 colonies and so on.

During my work hours yesterday, I was trying to figure out a way to reach out to the varied interests of the history-lovers community. Now I know the answers can be found in a carpool shift.

History is more than ok, it can be overwhelmingly fascinating! But not always.

So many people have told me, "I love history, you know, the Civil War."

Others say, "Does the museum have anything other than Civil War stuff?"

Then just last week, a man came to the Jackson Genealogical Society meeting from Florida and when he realized I was the local museum director, he said, "Do you have anything from the Civil War? That's the only thing that interests me." Clearly family history interests him or else he wouldn't be hundreds of miles from home, but the Civil War is what he considers history.

(Please note, I am not picking on the Civil War devotees! They are a lively,  large, persistent and well-educated group!)

History is interesting to almost everyone. Yet, everyone is interested in something different about history.

While driving home, I encouraged the girls to not give up on history/social studies. Find your own thing that interests you and try to see how that topic is connected to other things, that's history and social studies.

Then you can really appreciate both history and social studies!





1 comment (Add your own)

1. Kim Lewis wrote:
I so understand what the girls were saying. My history experience in MS and HS was copying down notes from the board, but when my Girl Scout troop would go to the Adena Mansion I would love what I learned about earlier times, not to mention our family trips and reunions to Serpent Mound (Adams Co) and the Mound Builders of Ross County.
When I taught next to a high school classmate at Unioto HS I could hear the wonderful stories that my friend was telling his students. He brought history to life.
As we go through life I think we appreciate history in a different light or with a new perspective. Traveling to Europe as an 18 year old is different from traveling abroad later in life.
Thanks for the story to remind me to look at history again.

Thu, October 3, 2013 @ 4:57 PM

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