Thursday, January 18, 2007

Teach Your Children Well

Reprinted in full from a year ago. Sorry to pick on my children again, but when we spent thousands to take you to the UK in 1997 and you wanted to spend the time watching British TV, I resolved that I was justified in taking revenge for years afterward.

I will save you some trouble in educating your children. Don't bring them to an historical place, hoping they will develop some interest and want to learn about it. That does happen, but it is so serendipitous as to be unreliable.

Have them learn first, and then go, painful as that is for you.

We take a family trip in honor of each boy's highschool graduation -- their choice. In 1997, Jonathan chose England and Scotland. Note that Braveheart came out in 1995. Jonathan was very taken with being descended from William Wallace, and all things Scots in general. Our first two sons had grown up in a family oriented toward the medieval. We had gone to SCA events in elaborate costume, had read them dozens of stories with knights and dragons, visited Hammond Castle and the armor museum in Worcester, and made padded swords for them to engage in mock combat. I thought that the second son, Benjamin, would pick up enough history on the trip to aid him in subsequent history classes.

Fast forward four years. "How did the history test go, Ben?" Not bad. I think I got almost everything, except there was a question about Hadrian's Wall (disdainful voice) which of course only Doug knew about. My eyebrows went up, my eyes widened, and I shook in anger, remembering the approximately $6K we'd spent on the trip. "You were ON IT! It's the border between Scotland and England and you and Jonathan played on it! Don't you remember?" Oh. Yeah. Sort of.

Two weeks later, having studied a little more European history: Y'know, I think I'd like to see Versailles when we go on my trip.

Spend your money on the movie first, the academic lesson second, and the trip third.


Anonymous said...

You have the order right. I ventured nowhere until I earned my first degree, a BA in History.

I started as a young man infatuated with the movie 'Spartacus.' This encouraged me to major in History in college. After I graduated I spent some months in Europe and sundry places seeing those things I had studied. It was a great adventure, espcially since I was travelling with a fetching Italian lass. Ah, she reminded me of the Romans.

These days I cannot imagine studying as much as possible before some foreign adventure.

Anonymous said...

Oh, don't I know. We took the kids to Gettysburg and all they remember is the trip to Hershey, and to Washington D.C. and Smithsonian, and all they wanted to do was swim in the hotel pool. But your story topped mine.

Anonymous said...

There is a theme developing here. The first time we took our two daughters to Disney World they enjoyed the park OK but kept asking, "When are we going to go back to the hotel so we can play in the pool?"

Woody said...

Mike Austin, to paraphrase Captain Oveur in Airplane!...
Mike, do you like movies about gladiators?