The Center for Mission & Academics
Mission Moments Blog

Bringing History to Life

By Linda Pryor, Executive Director, The Center for Mission & Academics

Last week, our Level 2 students arrived at morning assembly dressed in ethnic costumes depicting their families’ backgrounds. After reciting and singing about their trip through Ellis Island, students were able to experience what it was like to be new to America arriving in Manhattan and going through the process of inspection before entering the country. At the same time, our Level 3 students at Liberty Hall came dressed as men and women facing the hardships of the American West, heading to California to pan for gold and make their fortune. Happily, the gold they were able to find was actually chocolate, but still, it will be a memory not quickly forgotten. This week, our Level 4 students will conclude their study of Ancient Roman history by dressing in togas for assembly and presenting a dramatization of the assassination of Julius Caesar. The rest of the day is packed with adventures such as  ‘chariot races’ and Latin lessons and a buffet of Roman foodstuffs to name a few. Historical simulations, such as these, play an integral role in teaching the adventures of history along with the principles of freedom and character to our students. They experience authentic situations in which they make decisions based on the new knowledge acquired from class. This process instills in them the ideals of the American spirit, and self-reliance, and gives them an appreciation and empathy for the challenges of the courageous Americans that came before them.   The ultimate goal is to create meaningful, personal learning experiences for students that will make lasting impressions. As productive citizens in society, the background knowledge gained from these learning experiences proves to be indispensable.
History is a rich source of experience, filled with successes, huge mistakes, lessons, and examples that can be tapped in a purposeful and positive way to help young people understand the principles of freedom and the elements of fine character and leadership. It is a powerful source of wisdom we are committed to sharing with all our students. Bringing historical events off the page of students’ textbooks and making these events come alive through a format that engages students’ imaginations and helps them to interact with the content of the event are very powerful and engaging methods to teach the important principles of freedom and character. 

A simulation must be age-appropriate but challenging to engage them at the level that will push them to think. Students need to be prepared thoroughly about the event, the time period, the important decisions made at the time, the reasons for the decisions, as well as some discussion in which opinions are shared and openly discussed. Put this all together and the learning that arises is multiplied - and so much fun!
An Independent College Preparatory Day School | K3 to Grade 12