By Cait Collins
It amazes me how little people know about history, geography, and basic civics. I watch some of these man-on-the-street interviews and cringe. How is it possible young people and adults do not recognize a picture of the Vice President of the United States? What country is the home of the Eifel Tower? I was shocked to hear answers like Rome, Africa, and Italy. Is it really imaginable that our young people cannot put the following events in chronological order: War of the Roses, the fall of Rome, the signing of the Magna Carta, the battle at Thermopile, the American Revolution? Why can folks not name the 50 states and at least half of the state capitals?
I have a couple of theories. One, video games, the Internet, and television have eclipsed homework and study. Two, so many of the text books and extra reading materials are dry and boring. So what do we do about it? What if we write history, geography, and civics better?
Bill O’Riley has hit pay dirt with his Killing series. While not excessive, the descriptions in KILLING LINCOLN put me in the action. Hour by hour events, introductions of cabinet members and military figures put a new perspective on the events. I actually enjoyed the reading. Young people like the books. So what if we take a page out of O’Riley’s play book, select an event, forget the politics and ideology, use verifiable facts, and write the story? What if we revealed the event through the eyes of an ordinary person?
I enjoyed Rick Riordan’s mythology lessens in his Percy Jackson series and Heroes of Olympus series. I began to realize how much I had forgotten and started to research the gods and goddesses. Myths and legends are a part of the culture and history of nations. They are viable influences on history. So what if we took other myths and legends and created stories?
With so many distractions, it’s a challenge to teach our children, teens, and even adults the past and how those old events affect today. If we don’t know where a city or country can be found on the map, how can we possibly understand the importance of events in that country? What if each writer chose an event, a location, or a person, and wrote a story? If we do our jobs well, we will not only teach, we will create readers.