To Enable Our Students to Learn from the Past for the Adventures of Today and Tomorrow
“Not to know what took place before you were born is to remain forever a child.” –Cicero, Ancient Roman statesman
At LePort Schools, we teach the exciting subject of history at each grade level, in all of our classrooms—so that the knowledge of yesterday can contribute to our enjoyment of today.
In order to learn from our mistakes and successes in our own lives, it’s necessary to pay close attention to what happened in our own past. A child who touches a hot stove learns “Ouch, that hurt!”, and will not make that mistake again. A teenager who lies to a loved one, and consequently feels miserable discovers, “Ahh! It’s not worth it.” An adult who works a few incredibly long and hard weekends to finish an important project learns an important lesson: “Wow! this is what accomplishment and success feel like!” Much practical knowledge can be gained from our own past experiences. At the same time, this knowledge is of necessity limited to the time and place of our individual lives. Would that we could learn from the past of others. Of course, we can—through a study of history.
At LePort, we make history come alive, so that our students can learn, vicariously, through the men and women who lived and died in centuries past. Students discover the essential features of human experience throughout history, from our caveman ancestors to modern-day millionaires; from those who monotonously toiled in Ancient Egypt four millennia ago to those who joyously danced in New York City during the Roaring Twenties.
Our students are immersed in colorful historical worlds, which we make come alive for them. We provide students with the essential people, events, ideas and characteristics of each period, and guide them to observe carefully and to identify the local cause-and-effect relationships of historical events. This foundation of historical knowledge and the practice of identifying cause-and-effect on a small scale allows our students to later grasp and apply deeper conceptual causes in their own lives, and in their more advanced history classes in high school and college.
At LePort, they tie everything they teach back to how it is meaningful to the students, and the children constantly apply what they learn. For example, in history, they make 100% sure that the kids know why they are studying history. They show how it is sociology, how they are learning how people think and why they act, how learning history is learning about the world. Most lectures and assignments have some real-world questions in them. They have to write about how history relates to their own lives, with questions such as “if this were to happen today, what would you do?” or “Would you be friends with Julius Caesar, and why?”
History as valuable lesson for today: How should America respond to Somali Pirates? A very nice example on how our students apply what they learn about the past to today’s issues happened in a history class taught as Somali pirates were holding an American merchant ship hostage. One of our students had a clear answer: “America should learn from history! She should NOT pay the Somali pirates the ‘Danegeld’ because,” and here with glowing pride our student quoted a Rudyard Kipling poem , “that once you have paid them the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane!”
Danegeld literally means “gold for the Danes”, Danes being Viking raiders from Denmark. The modern equivalent is “ransom” or “bribe”, basically protection money. LePort students learn that medieval leaders paid the Danegeld in exchange for the promise to be left alone—only to have the Vikings visit again soon, and demanding higher payments. LePort students learn about this history in a vivid, personalized way, through an approach that engages their emotions and their minds. Because they are engaged, they remember. And because we tie literature to history, our students can relate poetry to history to make a powerful observation.