I just spent my morning at the Michigan Historical Museum in downtown Lansing and I am feeling quite contemplative at the moment. I had the pleasure of visiting this museum at an earlier time; specifically, in fourth grade as a segment of a social studies field trip that also included a visit to the state capital. Sadly, I have a feeling I appreciated my second trip to the museum more than my first. As a child, it is difficult to fully comprehend the magnitude and importance of what it is you are seeing, observing and learning while wandering the halls and galleries of a historical museum. To examine and study the vast amount of artifacts in the Michigan Historical Museum is a daunting task; there are thousands of artifacts that fill that majestic building and just imagine being a small child in the midst of all that history. Overwhelming, indeed.
Flickr photo CC by greaterlansingcvb
As I wandered the museum today, I kept thinking, "what a wonderful resource we, as Michigan citizens, have at our fingertips...right here in downtown Lansing, my backyard!" I imagined myself as a fourth grade teacher, herding my class into the buidling and watching their jaws drop in awe as they stood and stared up at a White Pine Tree (our state tree), standing three stories high in the center of the building. Talk about capturing some rambunctious kids' attentions! But the awesomeness doesn't stop there. The Michigan Historical Museum consists of five levels of galleries and exhibits that tell the story of Michigan's past from pre-contact through the late twentieth century. The museum tells a narrative...OUR narrative, as Michiganders. The exhibits include interactive computers, audio-visual presentations and hands-on elelments; the entire foundation this museum rests on is interaction. Yes, interaction! You are expected, as soon as you walk through that front door, to utilize all of your senses...well, they may not want you to EAT their artifacts, but you get my drift. Basically, it is an inviting and exciting environment where children can really learn the history of their state in a meaningful way. And isn't that what's most important...that children are able to find meaning inthe subjects we are teaching them?
I can't wait for the opportunity to enlighten my future students. I want my classes to have those experiences in historical museums, where they can envelop themselves in the past and learn about themselves in meaningful ways. History is an essentail element of learning who you are, of becoming good, kind citizens.
What would happen if we were to lose our sense of historical perspective? What do you think??? Is it dangerous? Ignorant? WRONG? Do not hamper yourself in the present and limit you future by ignoring the past. READ history, LEARN, travel, investigate! Explore your personal and family history. But don't stop there...probe and study your communities, towns, states, etc. Grab life by the horns...take EVERY opportunity that comes your way to expand your life, your knoweldge. Develope you historical perspective.