by Contributing Writer, Dr. Monica Crooks
This can’t be a novel observation. Surely you’ve heard it before or recognized it yourself: HISTORY is essentially…“His Story:” the version of events from any one given point of observation; usually that of the victor or the one in power, or the one lucky enough to have possession of the microphone. “His story” is told by many people and from many perspectives. History is often written to project a particular agenda or to embody a desired emotional state. Generally, history is only neutral if no one stands to gain from the telling of it. How often is that ever the case?
If one desires raw honesty and a fully comprehensive view, then a broader perspective must be researched…. and research means work…. Time and effort on one’s own part. It is rather apparent that human history is full of horrors, the details of which are likely inappropriate for youthful innocence. Sensitivity is surely required, but then, so is honesty. After all, these days parents subject their kids to R-rated movies and horror films with modern CGI technology that is very realistic…unlike the tin-foil monsters of my own childhood nightmares. Kids today are exposed to video games that are hideous in my personal opinion. So for sensible, responsible adults, I do believe there is a way to convey honesty to children without the most gruesome details, thereby lending a fuller view of our nation’s historical reality. I’ll relate a personal example to illustrate the point.
I recall in 6th grade one question on our history test was: Who discovered America? At age 10, I distinctly remember writing on my test paper with a measure of annoyance: “I realize the answer you expect for this question is, Columbus, but that is not entirely true because what he discovered was a continent that had already been discovered and was inhabited by millions of other people. Perhaps you might write the question differently?” Kids are oft-times much smarter than they are given credit for. By 10 years of age I already knew the perspective of the Native American, the African American, as well as the European American and that knowledge, did no damage to my cerebral cortex. Nor did it make me hate my country, or hate white people. Actually, at that point in time, our nation was in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. I was quite literally living history.
Kids can handle more of the truth than we present to them. They can especially handle it if they know the horrors of the past in context with the righteous efforts our citizenry continually makes toward the idealized goal of justice and equality. Life is never perfect, but the pursuit of perfection is always a noble endeavor.
Dr. Monica Crooks, DDS