Think about the last book you read. What about that book kept you interested long enough to finish? Was it a specific character? Was it a plot point? Did the overall story captivate you or was it the underlying message it delivered that held your interest?
Books have power because the stories they tell transcend age, race, ethnicity, social status, and other dividing factors to not only entertain but educate. In a similar respect, history does the same thing. There are characters we root for like George Washington who lead America into an epic battle for freedom. Characters we watch rise to new heights like Thomas Edison who gave us over a dozen inventions. And characters whose true colors are proven by their actions, like Benedict Arnold who became synonymous with the word “traitor”.
With all that said, there is a reason we continue to teach history to students of all ages. In fact there are several!
How can you not marvel at the earliest peoples who built entire civilizations that shaped humanity as we know it? From beginning to end, Earth’s story is one incredible feat after another, from the invention of the wheel to the invention of the cell phone. From past to present, east to west, north to south, history teaches us about the power of perseverance and working together. Books make a strong effort but nothing comes close to the stories history tells!
History, by definition, is the study of past events. Through research, primary and secondary sources, and the oral and written histories left behind, we learn to see events not just the way they were written but through the eyes of those who lived through it. History enriches our understanding of life by exploring questions related to character and morality, innovation and resourcefulness, spirituality and bureaucracy. It gives us insight we normally wouldn’t be privy to, and teaches us where our very beliefs, customs, and traditions originated.
“History is written by the survivors.” The idea that the victor tells the story is not a new idea, but it does call into question whether what we know is true or not. It influences our interpretation of events. For example, the very first Thanksgiving and the coming of Christopher Columbus has two sides. The first, where he discovered a brave new world we now cherish. The second, being the destruction of the indigenous life who had already claimed this “new world.” Knowing what happened before, during, and after asks us to question the accuracy of facts presented and allows us to ask questions and debate how things may have been done differently, and whether the people we honor truly deserve our admiration.
“History repeats itself.” We read the same stories of survival told over and over, with different characters, different struggles, and different outcomes, but these stories follow a trend that we can use to change the way we think and act today.
I love American History and how real-life history is just as action-packed as any current Hollywood movie. However, not all students feel this way. Like with all my assemblies, I seek to find a balance between “entertaining” and “educational.” My goal is to inspire students to find a love and appreciation for these school subjects that so strongly influence our lives.
In “Uncle Sam’s Comedy Jam” I focus on the chain of events leading to the writing of the Constitution, using wacky stunts, comedy skits, fun costumes, magic, and tons of audience participation to make history fun again. Even better, I provide Teacher Support Materials you can use to satisfy the federal requirements for teaching the U.S. Constitution! Whether you’re celebrating Constitution Day, President’s Day, or any old day of the week, “Uncle Sam’s Comedy Jam” is an incredible assembly your students will remember for years! Click here to learn more.