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History and Legends

Making History Interesting


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Making History Interesting

The experience of all teachers testifies to the lamentable deficiency in historical knowledge among their pupils; not that children dislike the incidents and events of history, for, indeed, they prefer them to the improbable tales which now form the bulk of their reading, but because the books are "dry." Those which are interesting are apt to be lengthy, and the mind consequently becomes confused by the multitude of details, while the brief ones often contain merely the dry bones of fact, uninviting and unreal. An attractive book which can be mastered in a single term, is the necessity of our schools and the following principles must be respected:

1. To precede each Epoch by questions and a map, so that the pupil may become familiar with the location of the places named in the history he is about to study.

2. To select only the most important events for the body of the text, and then, by foot-notes, to give explanations, illustrations, minor events, anecdotes, &c.

3. To classify the events under general topics, which are given in distinct type at the beginning of each paragraph; thus impressing the leading idea on the mind of the pupil, enabling him to see at a glance the prominent points of the lesson, and especially adapting the book to that large and constantly increasing class of teachers, who require topical recitations.

4. To select, in the description of each battle, some characteristic in which it differs from all other battles--its key-note, by which it can be recollected; thus not only preventing a sameness, but giving to the pupil a point around which he may group information obtained from fuller descriptions and larger histories.

5. To give only leading dates, and, as far as possible, to associate them with each other, and thus assist the memory in their permanent retention; experience having proved the committing of many dates to be the most barren and profitless of all school attainments.

6. To give each campaign as a whole, rather than to mingle several by presenting the events in chronological order. Whenever, by the operations of one army being dependent on those of another, this plan might fail to show the inter-relation of events, to prevent such a result by so arranging the campaigns that the supporting event shall precede the supported one.

7. To give something of the philosophy of history, the causes and effects of events, and, in the case of great battles, the objects sought to be attained; thus leading pupils to a thoughtful study of history, and to an appreciation of the fact that events hinge upon each other.

8. To insert, in foot-notes, sketches of the more important personages, and thereby enable the student to form some estimate of their characters.

9. To assign to each Epoch its fair proportion of space; not expanding the earlier ones at the expense of the later; but giving due prominence to the events nearer our own time.

10. To write a history by carefully avoiding all sectional or partisan views.

As students study the wonderful history of their native lands, they will learn to prize their birthright more highly, and treasure it more carefully.