Signing books at a local fall festival in Atlanta, I was asked (yet again) if my books are historically accurate. I weaseled out of that in my usual way, boasting of my doctorate in history. Believe me, he wouldn't have wanted to listen to the alternative: a lengthy lecture.
Such an interesting post by Russ Walsh (although I'm still processing the nine million dollars for research he mentions . . . ) Perhaps part of the problem is that when kids are reading in a highly-structured environment that emphasizes passing tests and "achieving" and "excellence", it sucks the joy out of the exercise?
There's also the same problem that I see with history curriculum, which is that we seem determined to reduce every part of education to a technical exercise, described in painful detail in lesson plans, which translates in the case of reading to a single-minded focus on phonics. I was intrigued by the idea of teachers' setting the stage for a book, introducing the story so that kids have a chance to build context. That's what historians do, even for each other (all books, chapters,and essays start with a story) and what teaching history is ultimately about: the building of context through story.
"I regret not taking more history in college," the doctor of infectious diseases confessed to me. "I was afraid of it. I was good at math. It had right and wrong answers. History was all gray areas. But now I'm fascinated by it."
To anyone who thinks of history as facts and dates, and as a subject both dull and easy, this may come as a surprise. Surely someone who ended up as a specialist physician is a smart cookie? She might have been bored by history classes, but surely not intimidated?
Academic & Public Historian, Middle-Grades Author (The Snipesville Chronicles), Practitioner of Non-Boring History, Mother. AnnetteLaing.com