History and Geography
Understanding Causality in Human Behavior
A key goal of the LePort Montessori history program is to help students understand cause and effect in history—that people’s decisions and actions have long-reaching consequences. We ask the question, “Why do these historical events unfold the way they do?” For the student, this means not only getting the (essential!) facts, but seeking to uncover the why of these facts. We may know that an emperor in Roman times acted in a particular way; what we really want to understand is why he did what he did. In this way, the Upper Elementary students learn to draw larger conclusions about the successes and struggles of man based on solid, factual evidence.
“When we were camping recently, a friend who is a history teacher was with us. My daughter and her friend, who is also at LePort, started talking about Julius Caesar, and just kept going on and on. They knew so many details that this history teacher was astounded, and let the girls know that they knew things that he didn’t even know. The girls just said, “really?”—they didn’t realize how much they are learning at LePort. They have grown to love knowing the details, to talk about them. People outside of school are always surprised when my kids talk about history and science—most adults don’t even know what my kids know. And, of course, having this experience of knowing more than adults only makes them more eager to learn!”
Connecting history to a student’s unique life is at the core of our approach to history. We ask students to empathize with the motivations of people of the past. For example, if we are talking about the opportunity of being one of the first to come over to the New World in the early 17th century, a discussion question would be: “Would you go, and why?”
“History must be alive and dynamic, awakening enthusiasm, destructive of intellectual egoism and selfish sloth. For two thousand years we have been taught: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ and we are little nearer to the doing of it for mere preaching does nothing. … The history of human achievements is real, a living witness to the greatness of man, and the children can easily be brought to thrill to the knowledge that there are millions of people like themselves, striving mentally and physically to solve the problems of life, and that all contribute to a solution though one may find it.”
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