Showing posts with label History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History. Show all posts

A Case For Choosing A Personal Study Project

In January, my husband and I went on a rare date night.  Even though we rarely go out, most of the time we do the cliche thing and go see a movie.  We enjoy watching movies together and talking about them afterwards, and many movies we have seen sparked some great conversations.

Anyway, in January we saw 1917, and I came to a shocking realization.

I didn't really know what World War One was about.

I had a basic set of knowledge about it - I remembered when it was, which countries were involved, who won.  I remembered an assassination kicked things off, but I didn't remember who was assasinated, or why, or how exactly that led to a World War.

After watching a whole movie based off of one soldier's experience in World War One, I felt a sudden conviction that I should know these things.  And so my 2020 World War One personal project was born.

I've been casually picking "themes" for some of my historical reading the past several years, but this is the first year that I decided to formally pick an area of study and give it a strong effort.  It ended up being a really timely topic choice for this year.  Those men in WW1 truly suffered.  As much as 2020 has been hard for so many people, with stressful moments for me too - having that perspective of the intensity with which some of our forebears suffered has helped keep things in perspective.  People often say "things have never been this bad" - well, probably somewhere in history, they have.  

Anyway, I've been enjoying my WW1 project so much, that I am now going to take it upon myself to convince you that you need a personal study project for 2021!  Here are the reasons why.

You have educational gaps.

Oh, the dreaded educational gap.  We are embarrassed when we realize we have them.  We do everything in our power to help our kids avoid them.  We tremble at the mere thought of them...yes, I"m exaggerating.  But guess what, guys.  Everyone has gaps in their education.  I guarantee you do, and if you don't think you do, you probably just don't realize what you don't know.  It doesn’t matter how great your  education was. It doesn’t matter if you are the smartest person in the world - there will always be things that you don’t know.  I love Sarah McKenzie’s mindset that gaps are really just gifts.  For our kids, and ourselves, gaps mean that we will always have to learn something new, to pause and marvel over something that we never realized before. The gap itself isn’t the gift, but the exploration of a new subject is. Don’t leave the gift unopened! (Okay, sorry, that was a little cheesy...)

Choosing a personal study project is modeling lifelong learning for our kids.

How many times do we moms opine about wanting our kids to have a “love of learning”, to cultivate “lifelong learners”? I figure if we truly want that, it’s a good idea to model it! Just like it’s a good thing for our kids to see their parents reading if we want them to read, seeing us get interested and excited over something new we learned has a similar effect, I’m convinced.  

There are alot of ways we can do this - and your personal study project doesn't have to look like mine.  I've been focusing on history, but you also could pick a science subject, classic literature you never read, a skill you want to learn.  There are so many options!

A personal study project makes you a more interesting person. 

I think learning more about a variety of subjects, or deep-diving into one subject, will obviously make you a more interesting person to talk to. When the subject of what ACTUALLY caused WW1 comes up at a party, as it inevitably will, you’ll have something to say and can dazzle your listeners with your knowledge! 

I’m kidding, guys.

The truth is, the causes of WW1, or the name of that one kind of orchid that looks like a bee, or the biochemistry of gut flora, or how to make the perfect lemon meringue - those subjects are not going to come up at any party ever (well, probably not). But learning new skills or diving into new subjects does give you a wider perspective on the world, gives you more topics and experiences on which to draw in a conversation, adds to who you are as a person - and yes, it makes you more interesting.

Diving deep into a subject can help you to understand the world better. 

This is a Captain Obvious sort of statement, but I’m speaking from my experience diving into WW1 this year. I didn’t realize, before I started looking into it, just how much World War 1 affected everything that came after it. I’m convinced if you don’t understand WW1, you don’t have the full picture of anything else that happened in the 20th century. This could probably be said of everything.  as human beings, we aren’t even capable of understanding it all, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to learn what we can. Which leads me to my next point...

We will never know it all - and realizing that can draw us closer to the One who knows everything.

Maybe this is a continuation of point number one, but isn’t it kind of amazing to think that you can never know everything there is to know? The only Person who knows everything is God, and we are not Him. We weren’t made to know everything, but we were made to bring glory to Him. I think one way we, as believers, can do that is to study His power in His creation, the story He is creating through history, or a creative skill that we know in our heart pales in comparison to the creative power of our awesome God - all while recognizing and thanking Him for all the ways He is greater than us. Learning more about this world, and realizing all the more how little we really truly know - if we are doing it all to the glory of God, we can’t help but be a little more amazed at Him. That’s what truly makes learning a worthwhile pursuit.

Did I convince you?

Over the last year, I've become invested in the idea of periodically choosing a personal area of study as an adult, and diving in deep.  It doesn't have to be a forever project - figure out something you want to learn more about, and dig in until you feel you've accomplished what you set out to learn.  Then see if a new subject piques your interest!  I've been really enjoying my World War One project, and I'm already thinking ahead to what subjects could be possibilities for 2021!

Have you ever started a personal study project as an adult?

Any Other Day

(Me and my littlest girls.)

Today my kids woke up as I was finishing my quiet time, and I was greeted by a chorus of little voices calling my name (which is "Mommy", of course).  They grinned at me, and laughed with each other, and ran to make their beds and get dressed before breakfast.

Today is just like any other day to them.

For the first time, I realized this summer that while 9/11 will always be a vivid memory in my mind, from here on out all brand-new, 18-year-old adults are people who were not even born then.  There is a whole generation of kids who will only read about 9/11 in the history books, the way I read about Pearl Harbor.  My kids are in that group.

That is so bizarre to me.  Because my memory is crystal clear of my mom rushing into my room one morning to tell me to get upstairs quickly to watch the news.  A plane had crashed into a building.  I had no idea what she was talking about, I thought it must be a history program she wanted us to watch for school.  So I had another half hour of living in my own pre-9/11 world while I got ready for the day.

I remember being glued to the TV for the rest of the morning.  I remember seeing black specks falling from the building and realizing with horror that those were people.  I remember sitting in silence, watching the first tower fall. Then the second.  I remember seeing the clouds of debris taking over the streets, swallowing people on the streets.  First responders covered in gray dust.  I remember the black scar on the Pentagon building, the news that another plane had crashed in a field.  I remember when everyone realized that this wasn't just an accident.

That afternoon I needed a break, and I went outside for a walk.  Yellow aspen leaves rustling in the breeze.  A blue, blue sky, and autumn in the air.  I thought, and I prayed, and maybe I grew up a little right then.

I remember how the country pulled together afterward.  I remember how for a little while we weren't Democrats or Republicans, we were only Americans.  Maybe that was the one good thing to come out of the horrible tragedy of that day, that we all had the chance to know what being united feels like.

I don't know if schools even teach kids about that day as history yet, but they should.  I know I plan to educate my children about 9/11 and tell them my story.  But maybe not yet.  They are small still, and prone to nightmares.   Maybe I just want them to be little a while longer before they fully know what kind of place the world can be.

But some year soon I'll pull open the news footage on my computer or we'll watch a documentary, and I'll make sure they know.  About the towers that fell, planes that were used as weapons, heroes who ran toward the danger, and countrymen who were lost.  I want them to remember what happened that day, even if it feels like distant history to them.  I'll tell them my memory of 9/11, just as I hope others are doing with their children who are old enough.

I would hope this day is commemorated, some of the footage shown, those who died honored in memory forever.  So that even those who don't remember would never forget.

Ten Years Ago

I can't believe that it was ten years ago already. I can't say anything that hasn't already been said, but I feel so blessed to live in this country. We can't forget those Americans who died in that horrible attack ten years ago or those who continue to fight or have died for the cause of preserving our freedom!


I'll be saying a prayer for the families of those victims and for our soldiers today.

Baby Boy Names In 1900

Ever since we found out that we're having a baby boy, Derek and I have been getting asked about what we're going to name our baby.

I promise that I'm not evading the question so that I can keep it a secret until his birth. We just honestly don't know what we want to name our little boy.

It seems like everyone has names picked out for their children so quickly, and I feel like a bit of a name-picking slacker. But I find that if I think about a name too much I tend to get tired of it, and then I'm not sure if I like it anymore. That's why I didn't have names picked out for a boy already.

In an effort to start thinking about what names I like, I went to the Social Security website. If you go to their website you can see the top 1000 names from any given year since 1879. It's a pretty cool feature.

So I decided to print up the list of the top 1000 names from the years of 1900 and 2009.

I picked 2009 because I want to see what's popular right now.

I picked 1900 because Derek and I like classic/Old English names. I'm not so crazy about modern names - I like a name to have a history, personally, and I like it to be easy to spell. I figured I'd get a good variety of classic names from the year 1900.

I saved the lists to my computer and started deleting some of the names that I know I don't like. I wasn't too surprised at seeing some crazy ones in the 2009 list, but I was very surprised by what I found in the 1900 list.

Apparently it was a fad in the year 1900 to name little boys with girl's names.

Oh, but not just the general girl's names, the ones that could be a bit ambiguous - like Ashley or Lindsey or Kelly. I still think those are girl's names, but you hear them enough as boy's names that it's not entirely unusual.

No, I'm talking extremely feminine names. Names like Rose, Elsie, Gertrude, Ella, Helen, Allison, Irene, Vivian, Annie/Anna, Emma, and Margaret.

And these weren't just isolated incidents.

Eleven little boys were named Lillian.

Sixteen were named Elizabeth.

Twenty-two Jewel's, and twenty-two Bertha's.

And yes, there were even nine boys named Callie. At least with that one they could be called "Cal" or something. How do you shorten Lillian to something acceptable? Or Anna?

All together, about half a percent of the boys born in 1900 had what I would consider to be clearly girl's names. That may not sound like much at first, but it probably adds up to a couple hundred boys at least.

Those poor little guys.

I kept double checking the list to make sure I was on the boy side. But there was no mistake - it was the boy side.

It just goes to show that people can think up weird names for their babies no matter what year they live in.

Nine Years Ago

The second plane hitting the World Trade Center.

The first tower collapsing.

Second tower collapsing.

So that we never forget what happened that day.

Videos taken from YouTube.

Happy 2nd Of July!

When I was in high school, I went to this youth group. Our new pastor was trying to get it going, and since there were precious few kids in our church, I couldn't not go.

It was alright. We played a game a did a study. But oh, what happened during that game still eats me up.

We split up into two teams and played a trivia game. The teams were neck in neck, and finally it came to be my turn to answer a question.

The question was either "When did our nation declare independence?" or "When was the Declaration of Independence signed?"

Oh, trick question, I thought. Any person could blurt out "The Fourth of July!", but I knew that wasn't accurate.

After thinking about it for a moment, I decided that I was pretty sure it was July 2nd. So that's what I said.

I was told I was incorrect, and then this snotty boy (who was just rude), looked at me like I was the most stupid person he had ever encountered, and exclaimed, incredulous, "It was July 4, 1776!"

I proceeded to tell him that no, that wasn't accurate, and I'd have to look it up for him. We got into a nice little discussion about it, in which he left patting himself on the back for knowing when we declared independence, and I left with extreme annoyance because all these people just believe whatever their teachers told them in school, and they were all wrong.

Well, today I feel vindicated.

Because last night, as I was reading John Adams by David McCullough, I was vindicated once again!

The vote to declare independence was taken on July 2, 1776 and passed unanimously, because no colonies who were opposed chose to vote (they knew it was the best thing for the nation, even though they couldn't in good conscience vote in the affirmative).

Right after the events of the day, John Adams wrote in a letter to Abigail that:

"The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more."

The actual signing of the Declaration of Independence didn't take place until August 2, 1776.

So whatever the question was (I can't remember the exact wording now), I was correct - the answer was not July 4th. The only thing that happened on July 4th was that they repeated the vote once more, with the same results.

Somehow, as they were trying to recall the events of that time when they were old men, Adams and Jefferson thought that the signing of the Declaration took place on July 4th, but that was incorrect, because it took the printer an entire month to create that beautiful document that is still on display in the Smithsonian today. Their incorrect recollection may be the reason why we celebrate our nation's birthday on July 4th.

So take that, snotty boy! I hope someday you find out that you were wrong and feel rotten for treating me like I was stupid.

There. I just needed to get that out of my system.

So Happy Birthday To Our Country! (Even though the actual celebration won't be until the Fourth.)

Ironically . . .

It's interesting what you learn when you choose to add a difficult book to your reading list. A friend and I are reading David McCullough's John Adams, a biography.

Do you all remember reading about the Boston Massacre? On March 5, 1770, a troup of British soldiers who were being harrassed by a mob of angry colonists fired on the colonists, and five men were killed.

It was one of the major events leading up to the Revolutionary War. The soldiers and their captain were tried later that year, and the captain was acquitted since it could never be prven that he gave the order to fire. Many of the soldiers were acquitted as well, and two were found guilty of manslaughter and got branded as such.

Something that I didn't know about the Boston Massacre was that John Adams was one of the defense lawyers for the British captain and his soldiers. I thought that was ironic, considering he was to become one of the leaders in the American Revolution, and later the President of the United States.

You want to know something even more ironic? One of the opposing lawyers, working on behalf of the men who were killed and their families, was Samuel Quincy. He fled Boston with the British troops on March 17, 1776, after Washington struck an agreement with the British general allowing them to leave in peace. Samuel Quincy was a loyalist to Great Britain.

One of the lawyers defending the British in the Boston Massacre trials was John Adams, member of the Continental Congresses, and later Presdient of the United States. One of the prosecuting lawyers was Samuel Quincy, a Loyalist.

Funny, isn't it?

I just thought that was rather interesting. Good book so far - I'd recommend it if you're up for a challenge.

© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.