Watching History… Watching You

Dear Reader:

Yesterday Eva Cate could hardly wait to give me her “present.” It had been a project in social studies. Each student was to tell what a grandparent had taught them about history and she quickly chose me-the retired history teacher. I was so proud.

( Though I had to laugh…Eva Cate wrote ” My grandmother has made me love history. She was a history teacher… back in her day! I love her! “

From the time Eva Cate was a toddler I was showing her pictures of famous leaders in our country, male and female, and what they did for our country to ensure a democracy-a free country.

By kindergarten Eva Cate was entertaining her teacher and class about who Washington was, where he lived, what he did, and most importantly myths, legends, and anecdotes about him.

I have always been on the side of philosophy that it is perfectly fine to tell students yarns ( that might be slightly askew or exaggerated by the famous storytellers of the time.) It is the old ” bait and hook” trick for age- appropriate learners-first catching their interest and helping them understand how one’s true life experiences are always much more powerful than fables, yarns, and myths.

Part of my desire to educate my grandchildren on our country’s history stems from those humiliating episodes from late night hosts like Jay Leno who would stop people on the sidewalks and ask who wrote the Declaration of Independence or the number of states we have or the number of the original colonies …and the pedestrian would stare blankly back at the camera… finally giving some ridiculous erroneous answer to the audience’s laughter. I made a silent pledge to myself-not on my watch-not my students and certainly not my grandchildren!

Eva Cate, these days is in to recognizing famous women throughout history who have previously been left out-plus earlier standard heroines like Eleanor Roosevelt and Helen Keller.

Today I am so pleased that the arts immersing with history are attracting more interest in history and the power of the story in this arena.

Take for example HAMILTON-now considered a new American Civic Myth. This amazing play allows everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity of immigration a claim, a sense of belonging to this nation.

I agree with Lin-Manuel Miranda that when it comes to understanding history we must share an important belief in stories and their power to change the world!

So until tomorrow…

It is up to each generation to pass down the baton of democracy to the next generation… how to do it… tell your story.

“Today is my favorite day ” Winnie the Pooh

Enjoying my Mother’s Day gifts…

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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