If you have a YouTube account, you may have come across videos from the highly popular Fine Brother’s Entertainment channel, which includes a series of videos known as Kids React. The videos revolve around introducing particular objects or topics to kids, and posing questions to them about their knowledge of and/or feelings with regard to them. Some of the most popular of the dozens of videos include modern topics like the popstar Adele and the Apple Watch; but the videos are really a hit with viewers when kids are asked about things of the past, like the Furby and the Walkman. For kids, the latter subjects are altogether foreign, unbelievable, and baffling. Thanks to the rapid advancement of modern technology, nearly obsolete items like the rotary phone (there’s an episode for that as well), are, to many, ancient history.
Still, the great thing about technology is the access one has to information such as this, and more importantly, to history beyond a couple decades ago. With our tablets, laptops and cellphones, almost always connected to high speed internet, we have the opportunity to get information quickly and accurately about thousands of subjects, for which we would previously have to spend hours in the library compiling–that is if the resources were even there. So, yes, kids have it easy, but it is important that we use the tools provided by modern technology to our benefit.
The value of doing so cannot be overstated, since according to the Smithsonian, not many Americans are even familiar with fairly recent history of the country, and only half of the more than 2,000 polled in the study were able to name all three branches of government. So, it also likely that ancient history, such as details of greek mythology or The Persian Expedition by Xenophon, may not be public knowledge either. Many experts attribute this to the decline in history being taught in general, as the focus in schools has shifted to language arts, math, and science for standardized testing. However, these concepts can be taught outside of school, both in the home and by introducing young people to the world of museums and similar institutions.
Some people question the merits of teaching history, especially ancient history, given that it has already passed, but the benefits of knowing history are plentiful. For one, history provides context for what is going on at the moment. With that in mind, as the world becomes increasingly global, it’s important to be able to understand what is happening and what we can expect to happen, based on precedent. Furthermore, history can teach children about good judgement and instill a moral compass with the benefit of hindsight. More than just being able to list periods of time or kingdoms of yesteryear, history has very functional benefits that we should continue to invest in those of future generations.
The resources we have today do not distract nor should they prevent us from our quest to archive and maintain historical data–in fact, such tools enhance our ability to do so. More than any time before, we have the literal world at our fingertips. It’s a remarkable ability, but only if we take advantage of it. What are you waiting for?