A recent example is reading The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, by Susan Wise Bauer. We are going through Volume 4: The Modern Age, From Victoria’s Empire to the End of the USSR.
Written in an engaging, narrative style, the book brings events alive and puts them in context with one another through brief chapters that are geared toward children in Grades 4 through 8. Geared toward them, but not exclusively for them.
There seems to be many holes in my education. With almost every chapter, I continue to wonder, “Where was I?” Meaning, “I do not remember learning any of this in school. Where was I the day this was taught?”
My husband, on the other hand, has always been a passionate student of history, but with it being such an endlessly vast field, the book is exposing him to entirely new material.
We are both enjoying reading the book aloud with our 10-year-old children. That practice of reading aloud is something that has been emphasized by leaders in World Wide DreamBuilders (WWG), one of Amway’s Approved Providers. It’s an effective way of enhancing learning, enabling the mind to stay focused on a topic and sparking dialogue as you go.
As we work our way through the book, it’s great to see how these long-ago events are related to what’s happening today, and to be able to bring those connections across many generations to our kids’ attention.
For instance, last week, we read about the 1850s opening of Japan, which had been isolationist—intentionally cut off from the rest of the world. Then the United States military showed up, essentially declared, “Trade with us or face the consequences of our might,” and said it would come back in a year for an answer. Upon its return, Japan established a trade relationship with the U.S., first, and eventually the rest of the world.
Then, this week, we were talking to a friend with a broad knowledge of the United States’ trade practices today, and how Japan much prefers to import oil from the U.S. (which is producing it more than ever) rather than from Russia.
Along the way, of course, our nation and Japan became bitter enemies, most evident by the Japanese bombing at Pearl Harbor 72 years ago today and the dropping, less than four years later, of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II.
But those are lessons for another time.