Here’s an idea that would revolutionize the teaching of history. Schools should adopt it right away.
First, list nine random human characteristics, like so:
- taller than average
- full-blooded Cherokee
- mentally ill
Second, list nine random human activities, like so:
- baton twirling
- violin playing
Now randomly match the two lists, and assign each combination to a different month, like so:
- September–Cherokee Hockey Players Month
- October–Mentally Ill Weavers Month
- November–Deaf Oceanographers Month
- December–Red-headed Inventors Month
- January–Diabetic Baton Twirlers Month
- February–Egotistical Violinists Month
- March–Tatooed Debaters Month
- April–Left-Handed Chess Players Month
- May–Tall Architects Month
Each grade would get their own unique list of months, and every year new lists would be generated, so that by the time a kid graduated, he or she would know the history of 108 different groups of people.
You might be thinking that this is not a very good way to teach history. I agree, and I think that we should stop. We already have Black History Month, and California is about to require “Gay History” in its public school curriculum. Isn’t history just history? It includes black people and gay people and gay black people, and it also includes left-handed Cherokees who play the violin. History should be the study of the events of the past, whoever happened to be involved in them.
A better way to organize the teaching of history seems to me to be chronologically. Depending on the scope of the history course, it could be done century by century or decade by decade. It should also have a geographic component, based on the scope of the course. So, for example, a world history course might have a unit on the 19th Century and be organized around the following questions:
1. What were the noteworth events of that period worldwide?
2. Who were the people that had a significant impact on the rest of the world?
3. What was happening on each of the seven continents, and who were the most significant people on each of them?
4. What major changes were occurring in human thought and human behavior during that century?
That to me, is good history.