Archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Editorial: Touring classroom

There’s more than one way to learn about history.

April 17, 2013


These days, much attention is given to “education,” whether it deals with K-12 schools, higher education, the cost of education, mid-career education, technical schools, proper funding for education, community colleges, the importance or lack of importance of graduate schools or MBA programs, etc.

Another form of education, a very unique form, is being offered again this year by Richard Norton Smith, former director of Kansas University’s Dole Institute of Politics. Smith, a highly acclaimed presidential scholar and historian, author, television pundit and director and curator of presidential libraries is conducting two special history tours.

These tours are not offered for academic credit, but they do bring history to life. Smith is a gifted speaker and he makes history real, relevant and entertaining. As he says, “There’s no excuse for a dull book, a dull museum or a dull tour, especially when dealing with history, the most fascinating subject I know.”

Smith’s highly popular tours provide a unique educational opportunity for individuals of all ages. The first tour is titled, “Mr. Lincoln’s War: On the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg.” This eight-day tour on luxury motor coaches will be led and hosted by Smith in June and will visit Civil War battlefields and historic sites.

The second tour, “A Presidential Tour of New York, New England & the Hudson Valley,” is a nine-day touring classroom in October that starts in New York and visits Hyde Park and Albany, N.Y.; Bennington and Plymouth Notch, Vt.; Dartmouth College, Concord, N.H., Lexington Green and Boston, Mass., and other historic sites along the way.

These tours are special in every respect. Both offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see, hear and learn American history, particularly at a time when the proud history of this country seems to be placed in “past tense” by too many Americans who see it as irrelevant to today’s society and political climate.

This editorial is not meant as an advertisement to hype sales for Smith’s tours, but rather to point out another way to be educated, learn and appreciate what it took and the price paid by hundreds of thousands of Americans to give us the country we enjoy today and to gain insight into the lives of military leaders and presidents.


none2 12 months ago

This may not be of much interest to young people, but for myself I have gotten a much larger appreciation for history by doing genealogy. I did just fine in school as it was just a matter of regurgitating on a test what the teacher said. However, history really become alive and personal to me until I realized that my ancestors actually lived through it.

For instances: 1) I have an ancestor who was wiped out in the economic panic of 1857. My history classes had never discussed this event. This in many ways was the first global depression. One of the side affects was that the south was hardly hurt by it which gave them a false feeling of confidence that the north was dependent on THEM.

2) People have thrown out a number like 618,000 or so Americans casualties during the civil war. ( Which by the way some are trying to raise to 750,000: )
That number really didn't really sink in until I looked at my own family tree and other's family trees and realized families who had wounded as well as casualties. The following URL has the deaths during the Civil War as almost 2% of the entire population. For comparison, WWII had fewer total deaths and was only .3% of the population:

3) I knew of the War of 1812. We all hear about Francis Scott Key seeing the flag still standing at Ft McHenry and thus inspired to write the "Star Spangled Banner" -- actually back then called the "Battle of Fort McHenry". Many also may know that the last battle was the Battle of New Orleans with Andrew Jackson. I found out that I had ancestors in Ohio who were involved with the War of 1812. Though Britain had given that area of the Great Lakes to the United states, they were hoping for a buffer Indian territory between the US and Canada.

Perhaps had I taken more elective history classes, some of these things would have been covered in more detail. For the typical history classes, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War are important. A lot of the details inbetween such as the War if 1812 are only touched upon. Doing genealogy and thus discovering ancestors who had been part of this history made me talk to people and investigate for myself some of the things that transpired. If young people could feel that history was more relevant to them (such as via family connections), then perhaps there would be more interest to discover for themselves, and not just get spoon-fed bits and pieces by their teachers.


somebodynew 12 months ago

Well, OK, I understand that this is not an advertisement, but how about some contact information ???? The editorial did it's job and I am interested in more information, particularly about the Civil War one, but there is no information.

Oh, I know I can find it as Google is my friend, but if you are going to write about this to spur interest, you should provide a link also. (Just my thoughts.)


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