Your Story: Making History Meaningful With Personal History

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Do you ever have a lesson that starts out one way & ends up in a totally different direction than you thought, but it ends up being REALLY AWESOME? Yeah, I had one of these today. After teaching a lesson to my sophomores about the Civil War, we got to talking about history in general, which ended up morphing into a discussion about personal history. Not even really thinking about it, I just started telling them this story:
I took an Alabama History class in college in which we had to interview someone that had lived in Alabama all their life & had experienced some of the historical events of our state. I picked my paternal grandmother. The significance was not the interview I did but the time I spent with my grandmother & the questions after the "interview" portion was over. I then started asking my grandmother more about our family. We can trace my dad's family all the way back to the 1400's in Sweden, which is pretty cool BUT I wanted to know more personal things. One of the first questions I asked her was about how she & my grandfather met, which I found out was a blind-date. She told me about this & other stories too. Despite the obvious historical insignificance to anyone else, this information was truly special to me because THIS WAS MY STORY. I would not be here if it weren't for that special blind-date. However, I do not know very much at all about the other side of my family because my mother's mother died before I was born & I was a teenager (actually in 10th grade) when my grandfather passed away. Most of their stories (and ultimately my story) died with them. This makes me sad to think about.
As I was telling my class this story, I noticed that one of my female students in the back actually started to cry. She told me afterwards that she was incredibly moved. So I challenged my students to go home, ask those questions of the ones they love, and take time to actually LISTEN. Teenagers are not good at that last part. But overall, I felt like my kids actually GOT IT. They seemed excited about the idea of talking to their grandparents & finding out more about their family. As I told them, no one is going to care about this information but you and your family but if you don't ask it now, it could forever be lost. Do you want YOUR story to be lost? I sure don't. So I encourage everyone to talk with their loved ones, write down those special stories or recipes or traditions, and don't let them pass away. This is YOUR history so take ownership of it!

My Amazing Family...

Top left: My husband, me, & my sister
Bottom left: my mom, my dad, & my adorable neice, Lucy! 

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