Paint by numbers from Flickr/JenniferJuneOver the last year or so I've been publishing quite a few posts which started off being about my travels, trip reports I suppose you could call them. I've noticed though, that they have veered off towards historical places recently. You could say my whole blog has veered off from its original intent, several times and in several directions, but that's another story and besides, that's evolution for you. The revelation, though, is that I am interested in history, more so than I thought.
Up to the age of about 11, all I seemed to learn about were the stone age, the bronze age, Greeks, Babylonians and Romans, all of which which seemed so remote at the time that my imagination was never engaged. Besides, I stopped having anything further to do with it after the teacher asked us to guess the period of something . "Come on, just guess. I won't be annoyed if you get it wrong." Some poor girl guessed 2000 BC and, yes, the teacher shouted at her.
Then senior school, and all we seemed to do was learn things parrot fashion, all in chronological order of kings and queens of England. There was a quick side trip into the French Revolution but only insofar as it touched England. And we literally did have to learn things off by heart. When important exams came at the age of 16, we were given a list of 20 of the most likely topics and were expected to know our set notes so well that we could just write, write, write, for three hours solid, without having to engage our brains at all.
I believe the teaching history in schools has improved over the intervening years, and I sincerely hope this is true. A friend's child studied the history of medicine for her exams, which sounds to me vastly more appealing. Painting-by-numbers doesn't produce works of art and history-by-monarch doesn't, to my mind, produce good history. Do, or did, Americans have to learn history-by-President? Do other countries do this trundling through the years via their heads of state and call it history?
So here I am, an indeterminate number of years later, finding I enjoy history, that there is so much more involved than dates. And I'm frantically trying to catch up on all I've missed. I have just read Paris in the Fifties (not solely about Paris and only incidentally the fifties) and I'm about to embark on a history of South Africa in French. That should be interesting in more ways than one.