However, the author of the letter went a step further. She made a compelling argument about the value of good schools to everyone in the community, not just to students and their parents, and she was spot-on. Good schools produce better citizens, keep kids engaged and out of trouble, AND they attract businesses to town. There is a huge economic and social impact on a community when schools perform well.
This letter made me think about history education, and the fact that it’s also time to rally everyone around supporting local history and history education. David McCullough, one of my heroes, is quite eloquent on this subject – and even angry at times, because he sees how much we, in America, are falling down on the job of history education.
It can’t be left to the schools, because history education is often not done well – sorry, but we know this is true. Even when it is, history in the classroom and in textbooks doesn’t necessarily excite students.
It can’t be left to historical societies because too many of them don’t have professional education staff or any paid staff at all, they are underfunded, overwhelmed with other responsibilities, or not interested.
Instead, I think it’s time for a community-wide, team approach -- revolutionary change in how we teach history.
• Kids who learn history become better citizens.
• They find GOOD role models, and are inspired (especially important for girls!).
• They expand their thinking about what is possible (“If she can do that, so can I!”).
• They develop their creativity by doing projects.
• They learn new skills.
• They especially develop their analytical skills by finding out the “truth,” by understanding that who writes history doesn’t always get it right, and by uncovering untold stories.
• They become engaged in telling those untold stories.
• They find out about themselves and their family.
• They learn town pride.
• They become interested in historic preservation.
• They can make money as researchers, tour guides, docents, authors, videographers, product developers, bloggers, and teachers.
• They pass it on.
All of this is possible when kids are turned on to and by history. I’ve seen it!
What’s in it for you?
Knowing that you have made a difference in young lives and in the world. And if you’re like me, that’s awfully important and deeply fulfilling.
As a business person, I will also tell you that you will attract attention and business to your business or organization if you proudly promote what you’re doing.
None of us were put here to take up space, but the trick is to discover why we are here and what to do about it.
You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t care about history, so I invite you to start a historical revolution in your own community. Find out who is doing what, form a team, and go for it! There is so much to gain. Yes, you will encounter resistance from the naysayers. Do it anyway.
And then, please let me know what you have done!
2011 © Bonnie Hurd Smith
History Smiths works with service-oriented businesses to use history — their own and their community's — to achieve customer loyalty, referrals, and high status. Subscribe (above, right) to our free Ezine, Connections, where we share ideas and examples of businesses embracing history to achieve business goals.