My students sometimes complain that they are tired of learning about “dead people.” As a history teacher it is vital for me to help my students see the relevance. They have a misconception that history is dead along with its people. I want to teach them that “Dead people were people too.” They had emotions, cared for their families, and had opinions. And it was these people that made decisions and shaped ideas. It can be hard to teach this concept among the big ideas of war and conflicts, large social and political movements, and causes and effects in history.
As we have studied the Civil War, I have found nothing more convicting to me than my lack of focusing on the “people” of history. As we studied the images this morning, the personalities of the soldiers reminded me of the emotions that can get lost in the teaching of history. The men were not just part of the large troops or the cause of the war, they were the people that made the war worth fighting. If I use such exercises in my classroom, I can create empathy in my classroom which will intrigue my students.
From now on, I want to add a “person” component to each concept I teach. After all, “dead people were people too.”