Monday, 16 October 2017

Poetry Monday: Why Wasn't I This Clever When I Went To School?

It's Poetry Monday, as I'm pretty sure you all know by now. Started by Diane (here), picked up by Delores (here) and me, with regular contributions here from Joan (of Devon). Anyone can join in! Write a poem, read a poem, borrow a poem--it's all good. If you post on your blog, please leave us your address in the comments so we can follow you home and admire your work.

No more preamble today; the whole back story is contained in the poem itself.

*****

History in General, and Mine in Particular

It was late in the sixties and bell-bottoms ruled
When I entered into junior high school.
Six years later they let me go free,
Clutching my high school diploma--Whee!!

School didn't bother me like it did some;
It was something to do, sometimes even fun.
I loved English class, and French, and Home Ec.
Math I loved less, and Science less yet.

But at the absolute bottom of the heap
Came History, a subject so wide and so deep,
I felt close to drowning from all of those facts:
Names/places/wars/kings/campaigns/dates/and/acts.

So when graduation meant I was free,
I thought, Never again will I take History!
On to an Institution Of Higher Learning I went
And tuition never NEVER on History was spent.

My learning was leaning to far different things,
For that is the freedom university brings.
A business degree doesn't bother with much
Except business-y things like accounting and such.

Working and marriage and babies came next;
The long years of busy-ness replaced "business".
And a funny thing happened as the years went by:
I started to ask--Who, What, When, Where, Why?

Why are they fighting? And Where did it start?
When did their countries all fall apart?
What will it take to make enemies friends?
And Who are the leaders to best make amends?

Who are the players, and What makes them tick?
When did the critical junctures get missed?
Where will the answers be found for release? 
And Why, people, Why can we not live in peace?

I think that you know how this story proceeds--
History is more than reciting old deeds.
To understand Now, we must study the Past;
Only then might the Future be better at last.

I try every day to make up for lost time,
To do my small part to find reason and rhyme.
The volume of knowledge will always dwarf me,
But I'm finally keen to embrace History.

*****

I know that finding world peace is only one reason to study history. What do you first think of when you contemplate the word "history"? One of the things I like best about Poetry Monday is seeing how differently people think about the same topic! Let me know what you're thinking.


Sunrise courtesy of Pixabay





39 comments:

  1. When I was at school History was taught as dates, battles, rulers. I loathed it.
    I came to it late, and now LOVE it. It tells me not only what happened, but how people lived. And I much prefer learning about the 'little people' than the celebrities/rulers of the day. Then and now.
    Consider me singing your poem right along with you. And applauding.

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    1. Thank you so much, EC. I feel I'm in good company now! I wonder if there is really any way of teaching the subject that would interest kids? I know that I did manage to get the bones of some of the world's history. It has given me a framework or context in which to place the reading I do now. But how to make that interesting? I see from the comments below that some folks loved it even in school. I wish I had!

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  2. I can't believe it! I've already written a long comment and getting half way through it disappears. How annoying.
    Anyway I was saying that I loved your poem, but unlike you I did like history, but only my own. I was always interested in looking at old photographs of my ancestors and knowing who they were. So much in fact that I have (by my hand and professional researchers) researched my family history. So not only do I have names, dates and places I also have 'flesh on the bones' of some of them. I would like to know more about the others, but unlike today, our ancestors were allowed their anonymity.
    Because of my interest I have been given and bequeathed photographs of my ancestors both by my mum and my Aunt Mary on my dad's side.
    My poem today is one I wrote over a year ago and there is one line in particular which is the same as yours, see if you can spot it.

    I can get lost in history
    In days of old gone by.
    With so many questions to ask,
    Who, where, when, what and why.

    I by-pass political history
    With kings, empires and wars.
    Concentrating on my ancestors,
    Their strengths, weaknesses and flaws.

    If I could live for just a day
    Knowing their daily grind and routines.
    How much more would I know
    Of their heartaches and their dreams.

    I would get to know first-hand
    Of the character that's been passed down.
    Whose strength? Whose weakness?
    Whose humour? Whose furrowed frown?

    As it is I'm in the dark
    With who, where, when, what and why.
    So I'll carry on guessing
    Until the day I end with a sigh.

    Have a good week.

    Joan (Devon)

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    1. Those are really the five questions that cover a topic, aren't they! Well done, Joan. Like you (or maybe in reverse), I wonder where current family members might have gotten their looks and personalities. It's wonderful to have the old photos. I have a few of those myself since my dad's death. Good for you for doing your family's research.

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  3. I didn't enjoy History much either, it was all about learning the Kings and Queens of England from the beginning of time and other boring stuff like that. What I wanted was the history of people, what they did, how they lived, what they ate etc. but political stuff and revolutions was what we got. I paid enough attention to pass and that was it.

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    1. Yes, I think I would have enjoyed "real people" history a lot more, too!

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  4. I loved this poem, Jenny. I loved history in school but didn't study it in university. I love how information is available to us so easily today so we have history at our finger tips.

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    1. Thanks, Marie. I also appreciate having so much information available. In fact, it seems there isn't enough time in one lifetime to absorb it all, but it's definitely easy to find the fascinating bits according to what our interests are.

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  5. You get on a roll in the last half of your poem. Those questions are what history is all about. They also make a good reporter and maybe that's what it's all about but just in the last. High school history was very poorly taught at that time. I don,t remember history classes.

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    1. We learned those questions in English class, actually, when we were taught how to write a news article. But they came in handy here :) As you say, they are what history is all about. Current and past.

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  6. You did a terrific job with this...I read it the hubs and he enjoyed it too.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Delores. And hubs too!

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  7. The word "history" makes me think of decisions--all the decisions, good or bad, that have shaped the world. Your poem is great. I've always loved history, and would have double majored in history and English if I'd had a little more time. I make up for the lack of a degree in history by reading a lot of biographies about important people.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Yes, imagine if some of those decisions--even a few--had been different . . .

      Biographies are a great way to learn about the times people lived in as well as the people themselves.

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    2. I think it was President Harry Truman who said that reading biographies is the best way to learn history. My daughter took AP history and said the focus was on learning dates and battles to prepare them for the AP exam. I tried to round out her education by telling her some stories behind the events.

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  8. History has fascinated me since I could open a book and see what I could learn. I probably am the only non native child in America who knew as much history as was written about native people. Tribe after tribe. Do you know how Newcomerstown in Ohio was named? The sub tribes of the Iroquois in Southern Ohio were very fluid, integrating into other camps easily. It was a more agrarian economy. One fellow switched camps, integrated, rose to chief. But it was always called the town of the newcomer, or Newcomerstown. History rules!

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    1. I wish I had had the interest when I was growing up because I feel I'm way behind at this stage of life :) That is a great story and shows how history could be made interesting for even the non-history-buffs of the world.

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  9. Nice job Jenny, I really like what you did with your poem describing the natural progression from disliking history to actually wanting to know more about it. Well done.

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    1. Thanks, Jimmy--it's easy to write the truth :)

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  10. I was bored with history in school until I took a summer school class on Humboldt County History and got pulled in to the "story" part of history.
    Once they started talking about places I had actually been, I was all of the sudden curious about it.
    Perhaps you (or I, really) need to feel some connection to the story to feel like learning it.
    I was amazed that right there where I always went, there was history. Humboldt Bay was "discovered" multiple times by explorers in ships, including Francis Drake, but because of the difficulty in seeing the mouth of the bay, none of them could find it again when they returned.
    And they finally found it from land with the assistance of the local tribes, and on the way named all of the local rivers.
    I've gained a bigger interest in world history as I've gotten older, but mostly I've gotten quite alarmed at the attempts to rewrite recent history by powerful men who would benefit from said rewriting.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. Having a connection definitely makes history more interesting and easier to remember. And I agree, anyone trying to rewrite history is dangerous.

      That is interesting about the bay being so hard to find. I'm always amazed by the old explorers who persisted without many navigational aids.

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  11. What a great poem, and I don't say that lightly as I'm not a fan of poetry really. Or history! Unlike you I've never really got into it.

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    1. Thank you, I appreciate that compliment all the more if you're an unwilling victim - ha ha

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  12. What a great poem! I would have followed in the same steps in high school because of the badly taught and oh-so boring Canadian history. But...lucky for our school, there was a history teacher that was very interesting and extremely fun, and there was a waiting list for students eager to get into his elective (secondary V) course: World History. I was one of the fortunate ones to get in and still remember it fondly. He was an amazing teacher and learning history was a blast. We had projects and debates and discussions and a whole lot of cool things to look forward to. I think if you have someone with imagination and creativity, history can be lots of fun. And because students blab with each other, word gets around about those great teachers. Because of this man, I signed up for history classes in college. Sadly, not all of them kept me focused. Because some of those teachers would just stand up in class and lecture *yawn* till you felt yourself dozing off.

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    1. Oh yes, you were very lucky with that teacher! Too bad there aren't more of those!

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  13. I felt the same way about history classes but now I see how important it might be; if only it wouldn't repeat itself.

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    1. There are a lot of people who don't seem to learn the lessons of history; no wonder we get the same mistakes.

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  14. Good one, Jenny. The first thing I think about history is that's it repeats itself and I don't like the way it's heading right now.

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    1. What's that saying? Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it, or something similar. I think it's true. And I'm with you, I'm wary of how things are going at the moment.

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  15. This is phenomenal!!!!!!....

    Great ,Brilliant and Excellent!

    this is amazing how smoothly you processed the whole changing life psychology through your wonderful yet simple way of expression dear jenny .you are truly a poet darling!

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    1. Thank you so much, baili--I'm glad you could follow the story so easily! That's what I was hoping the poem could be, something to share how I progressed from not liking history to seeing its value. You are an appreciative audience, my friend :)

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  16. This was wonderful...It isn't the subject but the approach to it that I find objectionable. History is actually fascinating and often scary, depending. Sadly, it is also often repeated.

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    1. Yes to all of what you've said, e. I think the right people don't get the right lessons that history has to offer.

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  17. your poem describes my history with history!
    My daughter wanted to become a teacher but didn't have an obvious best subject so she started studying history because it was the best of ones offered for her course. It turns out that she loves history, she just had to go to university to find out!

    I think history teaching has improved these days.

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    1. I hope it has! And isn't it wonderful that your daughter found what she loved?

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  18. This is astonishingly good, Jenny! (And I am not surprised it came from you!)
    So, so true! It could be my story . . .

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    1. Oh, thank you, Diane! I can't do it like you do, but I'm trying :)

      I think this is the story of a lot of school kids . . .

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  19. What a brilliant poem! I loathed history in high school, too; but it's funny how things turn around... maybe because I'm closer now to becoming history...?

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