. . . A Classical Christian education seeks to train students to really understand
history and to know it for a lifetime.
The time had come. Laura stood up.
She did not know how she got to the
platform. Somehow she was there,
and her voice began. “America was
discovered by Christopher Columbus
in 1492. Christopher Columbus, a na-
tive of Genoa in Italy, had long sought
permission to make a voyage toward
the west in order to discover a new
route to India. At that time Spain was
ruled by the united crowns of—” Her
voice was shaking a little. She stead-
ied it and went carefully on. . . . She
told of the Spanish and the French
explorers and their settlements, of
Raleigh’s lost colony, of the English
trading companies in Virginia and
in Massachusetts, of the Dutch who
bought Manhattan Island and settled
the Hudson Valley. . . . Then she was
really launched upon the great his-
tory of America. She told of the new
vision of freedom and equality in the
New World, she told of the old oppres-
sions of Europe and of the war against
tyranny and despotism, of the war for
the independence of the thirteen new
States, and of how the Constitution
was written and these thirteen States
united. Then, taking up the pointer,
she pointed to George Washington.
Laura goes on until she reaches the
point in history that records the statehood of Kansas. At that point, she turns
the recitation over to her classmate. What
is truly remarkable about this performance is that Laura has not only memorized the history of her country for that
school year, but she has mastered it for
life. Years later, when she went back to
write her novels, the timeline of U.S. history was still fresh in her mind.
What are the benefits of
memorizing the information?
Can’t we just read stories?
For the past eight years, my family and
I have spent a few minutes each day on
memory work in history. Every year, we
memorize a history timeline of about 160
events, beginning at Creation and ending
at the present day.
1 My hope is that they,
like Laura Ingalls Wilder, will be able
to recall this information for the rest of
A Mental Filing Cabinet
Let me give you a few examples just to
show you how this can work. The other
day, we were reading aloud Jules Verne’s
Life’s too short
to cry over math!
facts in only an
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