My father may have shown us a lot of television and movies, but these viewings would often begin with him introducing the movie or show by explaining the history behind it, and it added up to a surprisingly educational lifestyle.
Disney’s Davy Crockett show was introduced with information about how David Crockett was a Tennessean (like we were), and about the real life he had lived. Gone with the Wind came with history about the Civil War, film history, and even the tidbit that American men didn’t “used to” wear undershirts, until Clark Gable took off his shirt in a movie, and had on an undershirt underneath, which inspired men across America to dress in the same way. He especially loved to show us documentaries, and movies and television based on true history.
We traveled the country, and we always took time to visit any site of historical or cultural importance—from Hollywood to Jamestown, from the Hearst Castle to the Smithsonian Museums, from Griffith Observatory to the White House and National Mall, from Amish country (you could get a cassette tape to listen to in your car while you drove around and gawked at the Pennsylvania Amish as if they were some kind of museum exhibit, there, to observe in their “natural habitat”!) to Constitution Hall and the Liberty Bell, and of course (Daddy was a Naval officer) many tours of ships and aircraft—from aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines, and every flight museum of note in America, to the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose! Oh, and he was a civil engineer, so also every engineering marvel—from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge, from Hoover Dam to the Empire State Building. In other words, practically everything you can think of.
These visits always included Daddy telling us why these places and the people connected with them were important. I’m not sure where he learned all of these things. Education was far better in the 1950s and early 60s than in my day, so maybe it came from his schooling? But he enjoyed sharing the history of the people who’d come before us, imparting to us that we were merely the latest comers into a long train of discovery, accomplishment, victory, and loss.
The Love of History
I am so thankful for the natural pleasure my father took in teaching us about history—yes, for all of the things he taught us; but, looking back, I see that he taught us something even more important: Organically, as a part of normal life, he taught us the love of history.
For me, elementary school was one disappointing year after another, while I kept waiting to be allowed to take History, but kept being taught Social Studies instead. In junior high school, in California, I finally got to take World and United States History with a couple of teachers who loved the topic, and I quite enjoyed that—but little did I know that I was being indoctrinated into an absolutely false idea about history!!! Things kept going in that vein for me in high school and into college.
When you look back at history, most people have always loved history. The entertainments were always based on retelling history. What stories did Homer and Hesiod and the other classicists write about? History (whether they were accurate or not is beside the point—the point is that their audiences wanted to be entertained with histories). What was much of the popular, enduring Medieval literature about? Whether King Arthur or William Wallace, authors often wrote about history. What were most of Shakespeare’s plays about? History!
These authors weren’t writing something everyone hated; and these works sure weren’t preserved for centuries because nobody liked them! But no, throughout the ages, a popular entertainment for people, all over the world, has been hearing our history told.
So why do most people (think that they) dislike history today? I submit to you that most people dislike history because the “history” curriculum the modern schools shoved on them was awful, taught mostly by teachers who actually weren’t all that interested in the subject, themselves, with more of a focus on dates and false retellings about history (more about that later) than on what history actually is—highly relevant accounts of man’s doings, in God’s providence. In other words, great stories.
I’m thankful my father unintentionally made me understand that history is awesome, so that even after 15 years of the school system giving me largely poorly-told, confusing classes with the label of “history”, I kept paying attention and picking up every detail I could.
And Then Everything Changed
It was the summer after my first year of college when something really radical happened. My parents sent me to in-depth Christian Worldview training for 4 weeks, with Jeff Myers, David Noebel, Kurt Wise, and other highly accomplished instructors. I began to learn that much of what I’d been taught about history had been either distorted by a false narrative (for example, the first Thanksgiving was not held to thank the Indians for their help), changed by certain facts being intentionally omitted (the American colonists did not “rebel” against Britain primarily over the issue of taxation without representation, but for 27 causes carefully listed in the Declaration of Independence, one of the least important of which was taxation without representation), or even entirely made up (the first humans didn’t “appear” around 100,000 years ago in Africa or the Middle East)!
What you believe about history affects how you make decisions in your own life.
The proverb says that if you don’t know history, you’re doomed to repeat it. This is true on both a national scale, and on the personal level, as we live our lives. I can learn from the examples of people who’ve gone before—both for good and for bad—or I can fill my life with mistakes that could have easily been prevented if I’d simply known that such-and-such had already been tried and yielded poor results in someone else’s life!
This is the gift of the people who’ve gone before us—they leave all of their teaching behind for us. In a sense, they are all our ancestors, as we are each descended directly from Adam, and more recently from Noah. Let us receive the gift of the instruction of our forefathers!
For children, this is vitally important to shaping their understanding for all of life.
If you believe that good guys always lose and bad guys always win, then you will not be very motivated to stand up against the bad guys.
If you believe what the Bible teaches about dates isn’t to be completely, literally trusted, then how can you put full, literal trust in the commands to abstain from fleshly lusts?
If you believe that no one important in history was a serious Christian, then if you want to make a serious difference in history, you’re not going to look to your Christian faith as a very important tool in your fight.
For me, this eye-opening teaching, showing me where I’d been deceived about history, and showing me the true history of certain things, was an absolute game changer.
(Sometimes I look around, and I think that there are a few of us who got some really good training, and grew up and really lived our lives differently because of it. The people who invested in us, hoping to train us well, were hoping that we would grow up and live our lives differently because of it—and we did. And that gives me a lot of hope for the efforts we are making with our children as homeschoolers, to do even better with them, in hopes that they will grow up and do still better things. As Moses taught us to pray in Psalm 90, may the Lord establish the work of our hands!)
What if you don’t like history?
And can it be that history is exciting?
The true story of history is better than any movie you love watching or book you love reading.
And it will inspire your children to live their lives like the Reformers and the Puritans, who had a great understanding of history, did—so that we, hundreds of years later, are still enjoying rich blessings from the fruit of their lives on this earth.
But if you’ve been around here for long, you know my rule of thumb, if you simply can’t do any better than this: Fake it! If you absolutely cannot summon up any interest in history yourself, grab a good book about history and read it to your children, and pretend that you’re absolutely excited about it. Give it a few months, and see what happens. If nothing else, your children will love that book, because they think you do. But I’ll bet you’ll also end up starting to like it, too. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men…” (Col. 3:23-24).
Don’t know where to start?
So how do we find out the true story of history, so we can pass it onto our children?
The way to get started is to find a few trustworthy sources who can help you get a toehold, so you can just begin to clear away the bad ideas and start replacing them with the true understanding of history.
I would be remiss not to tell you to use Grammar of Grace and the Later Knowledge Guides. They’re excellent for teaching children to love of history and learn lots of it, organically.
I love the books put out by Generations, especially Kevin Swanson’s books about history and worldview. Old Vision Forum resources are excellent, too, where you can find them; their History of the World and History of America conference audio/video sets are excellent. Reformation Heritage Press puts out a lot of great books, too; we especially love the Simonetta Carr books.
In general, stick to books written by protestants between 1500 and 1850. The Progressive Era started around 1850, and the book publishing industry was pretty much entirely taken over by around 1880, including a deliberate move to revise history such that money, and not reverence for God, was the pretended motivation for all heroes, including the most faithful Christians, in history.
Start there, and you’ll be off to a great start!
Do you have some favorite resources that teach the accurate account of history? Please share them in the comments!
Thanks for dropping by; please keep us in prayer!