A small voice, accompanied by a gentle tug on my shawl, asked me why we bother to learn boring things, like history. If the small voice had belonged to an adult it would have been an easy answer, but it didn’t. It belonged to a colleague’s young son who was part of “take your child to work” initiatives.
Probably not the most fun place to take a child, where we work. Even less fun to sit through your father’s lectures about history and the formation of nations when all you want to do is take advantage of the sun shining in the blue sky. It also probably didn’t help that our school lacks a playground for children to have fun and burn off excess energy.
So why do we bother to learn boring things? Is it because “they” say it’s important to have knowledge in these “boring” areas? Is it because we are too young, to uninformed to know what is boring or exciting? Is it all a matter of context.
When this little boy explained to me that all of history was boring, he wasn’t aware of all the amazing adventures that took place in history. He hadn’t had his mind opened to the incredible sea faring journeys of the Vikings. He liked the idea of the Vikings, the softer and friendlier version I told him about. No need to teach a young child that everything is violence and strength just yet.
The idea of boats with fantastic animals to guide them and keep them safe seemed to really capture his attention. So did the idea of exploring and making discoveries in newly discovered land for your people. He expressed concern about having to row the boat though, so he needed to be in “the front and in charge” to “make sure everyone row’s properly”.
See fun is what you make of it, as is boring. And why do we have to learn about history? Because it tells us a little about the people who came before us. If we are lucky we can hear their thoughts in their own written words, see how they learned about new challenges and realize that we aren’t that far off from them after all.