Children and history
My children attend a school celebrating its 250th birthday this year. The party will go on all year. My son played the fiddle and the class danced to George Washington’s favorite party pastime, the Virginia Reel. How convenient to mark the study of colonial history with the anniversary of the school founding! (A previous post showed you the murals and portraits of early headmasters we made to be mounted on the wall for the day’s special presentations.)
How do you get children to engage with concept of the passage of time that leads to a sesquicentennial?
There are signs around school: “older than the country,” “older than television,” “older than ketchup” that attempt to place the school on a timeline.
On display in the hallways is an exhibit of art by the first graders. I was awed. To make it personal, the children were asked to take an individual from a long ago yearbook and interpret that photograph as a painted portrait.
What a personal, colorful and delightful result!
I stood in the hall for ages, comparing the thumbnail black and white yearbook photo to the uninhibited creation on canvasboard.
There was the dapper cute boy. The basketball player from 1911. The girl who looked as though she’d like to be editor of the school newspaper, but it was probably too much before women’s lib for her to have a chance at the spot. I was so impressed that I’ve challenged my children to give my parents portraits of their parents as this year’s Christmas present. (My thinking being that once you enter those upper decades, it seems family history has more meaning than stuff from the mall).
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