History classes may be of greater interest to students when experienced through the lives of great persons. History comes alive and draws the student into a living experience.
Benjamin Franklin, one of Americas greatest patriots and statesman, developed the habit of frugality early in life. With his strong beliefs in forming virtuous habits, he then developed a series of 13 virtues which he proceeded to achieve, one by one, over many years. Good habits can be your best friend; Work on them. Ben’s life serves as a great roll model even today.
Albert Schweitzer devoted his life to serving and giving back for what he was so generously given in genius and musical talents. He loved life and all aspects of humanity and nature. His most famous saying is Reverence for Life which he lived out at his Lamborghini jungle hospital in equatorial Africa. He died there in 1965 at age 90 , a truly respected and great human being.
Henry David Thoreau is noted for his scholarly lifestyle and non-materialism. He was a doer and a thinker who described his two years in the wilderness of Massachusetts at Walden Pond in 1845. He is an example of resourcefulness and survival in the natural world.
Will Rogers was taken from us at age 35 in a plane crash. This barely schooled Oklahoma cowboy, horseman, and fancy rope trickster, rode to fame and fortune with his good humor and folk wisdom. He starred in Wild West shows, vaudeville, radio, movies, and more. He stated famously “I Never Met a Man I did Not Like”. Every president from Warren Harding through Franklin Roosevelt invited him to the white-house. His biography should be studied in history classes in place of some boring material in history books I’ve seen. He traveled abroad and saw more clearly than most Americans, the problems arising in the 1920s. Because of his wit, his bold talk was listened to by even his political opponents. America loved and adored their Will Rogers.
Jimmy Carter (ex President) has lead an exemplary life filled with many accomplishments after a rather difficult childhood growing up in rural Plains, Ga. After winning the Nobel Peace Prize he was still going strong at age 90 with his many Carter Foundation projects in dozens of countries throughout the world. Then suddenly he was diagnosed with a life threatening brain cancer with a grim prognosis. Then, consistent with his true nature, he fearlessly taught his beloved country how to say goodbye! His story is not yet ended, but we can say he is a great patriot, a scholar, and a teacher to the end. Who could ask for a better roll model for our youngsters. He is a prolific author on a wide range of subjects for teachers of history to choose from.
Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, ruled Russia for 34 years (1762-1796) as one of the world’s most accomplished leaders, men or women. Young ambitious women today could gain great inspiration by reading about how she overcame early challenges. It is hard for us to imagine the complexities and hazards of her life in Europe during this unstable period. She was age 33 when Czar Peter III was murdered and she thus became Empress. Her struggles and triumphs are too numerous to describe here. Her story requires a detailed reading about her monumental accomplishments.
Harry S. Truman: One of our greatest Presidents, often called “The Accidental President”, served from 1945 through 1952 during many critical years in our history. See the Page entitled QUALIFICATIONS FOR ELECTED OFFICE for more about this great man.
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