Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: I have so much more to learn about history

Thursday, March 10, 2016

I have so much more to learn about history

Tonight I watched a video called "The Fallen of World War II" that has been going viral on Facebook. It explains in great detail how many people were killed, both military and civilians, in every country involved in the war. It shows the deaths in relation to one another, and spread along a timeline, and even has links where you can interact with the data to learn more.

As I watched the video, I was stunned at the sheer number of deaths, and more than that, at how little I knew about various aspects of the war. I have so much to learn.

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1085605


I studied history in high school and college, and was an excellent student. But when I started homeschooling my own children, and learning alongside them, I was ashamed and embarrassed by how little I had even been exposed to in the classes I took. To say that the depth of knowledge presented was shallow would be an understatement. My classes barely skimmed the surfaces of the topics that were covered, and so many topics were left as untouched as pristine, shimmering, newly fallen snow.

In recent years, I have dived into long documentaries by Ken Burns and other filmmakers. I have read biographies, autobiographies, and historical accounts of Marines who faced unthinkable horrors in the Pacific, a bomber crew that was shot down behind enemy lines and then beaten to death by a German civilian mob, children who lived through the war on both sides, and more. But I have so much yet to learn.



Watching the video tonight, I realized that I know next to nothing about the war on the eastern European front, where the vast majority of casualties occurred. Is it because I grew up in the Cold War, during which any sympathetic reference to the Russians would have been taboo? I don't know. But I want to know. I want to know more about the siege of Leningrad and the mass casualties in the Battle of Stalingrad. I want to know what effect the loss of so many millions of young fighting men and civilians had on the Russian people, and what that means for them and for us today.

I feel blessed to be a homeschooling mom. This summer, my kids will be reading both "The Diary of Anne Frank" and "On Hitler's Mountain" - the first written by a young Jewish girl who died during the war and the other written by a woman who spent her childhood just down the hill from Hitler's compound, living in a Nazi family with limited access to any news unapproved by the Nazi regime, but still silently questioning why things were happening the way they were. We'll be watching the Ken Burns documentary, "The War."
We've visited our local World War II memorial, dedicated to the men who perished on submarines, and were privileged to meet and talk with a veteran of the war. We've also recently seen FiFi, the last flying B-29 bomber. I don't know what else we might do to study World War II, but I think it is important that we continue to learn, and that my kids realize at a much younger age than I did how much there is to learn about this war that truly changed the world.

You can watch the video here, and hopefully be inspired to learn more, too.

The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo.