Every child will benefit from the opportunity to learn about society, both the origins of their own civilization and other civilizations which existed in the past and around the world. With many online resources and Detroit’s new museum now open, there are plenty of opportunities for parents to get the help they need in order to give their children a grounding in the way people live together. The personal benefits from this teaching range from understanding other people from different societies, to pride in and knowledge of the American system.
A fundamental part of any child’s education should be knowledge of the Greek and Roman civilizations which provided so much inspiration for the character and organization of modern nations. Children often enjoy learning about the beautiful and ancient Greek system, while the origins of democracy in Athens will help them to understand the predecessors of American democracy and how these ideas emerged, maintained and were challenged.
What was it about the Roman army and civilization which allowed it able to conquer so much territory and to rule for so long? What would it have been like to live in such a proud and powerful empire when a small part of Italy had conquered territory over three continents? What social conditions existed to produce a society which provided safety and freedom to such an extent for its people while involving so much cruelty in other aspects of its rule? Of course, parents have available to them many different and well-researched books on the subject, which can help them to access the information which their child requires. Learning about the great ancient civilizations like Rome is useful, also, in that it is workable for home-schooled learners of all ages – it’s never to early to start teaching a child about the dress of a Roman legionary (for example), and advanced students will have plenty to explore over the complex politics of the Senate or the important military engagements which shaped the empire.
Learning about American society is also a fundamental part of a child’s education, and is one of the most important components of becoming an empowered and active citizen. What does the constitution say and what rights does it promise every citizen? Learning about social issues like this will ground children in America so that they will know what their country means and why it exists. Further to this, learning about the foundations of American society will act to clarify some of the hugely contentious issues of the news – like gun-control and free-speech – bringing into focus debates which could be confusing otherwise.
In a world in which global trade is vital and in which the cross-over of peoples is unavoidable and in many ways enriching, any child which receives a thorough grounding in the workings and history of great modern civilizations will be a well-equipped citizen. As China grows economically and expands its influence politically, a young person who can understand what formulates Chinese ideals will be able to navigate a Chinese-influenced with great prowess. Who was Confucius and what were his teachings? How and why did the first emperor unite the nation under authoritarian rule? Why did Chairman Mao begin his cultural revolution and what were the results? Young and inquisitive children are usually fascinated by this huge and culturally rich nation, one with well-known practices and influences alongside comparatively secret and amazing traditions. The same is true for other powers worldwide, a child who understands the creation of Russia after the Collapse of the USSR or Iran after the fall of the Shah will be able enlightened in their dealings with others.
Essentially, learning about civilization can help a child to be a part of society and to function best within it. Many students find it to be useful, also, to talk online (such as via email) with students from foreign countries – a great way to learn about a foreign society and to make new friends. There are a huge number of resources on the civilizations of the world, old and present, in print and online, which parents can utilize to home-school their children. Meanwhile, having a grounding in the origins of one’s own and different civilizations enables children to more easily understand why people behave as they do.
This post was written by Lisa Bullan.