Are you tired of history books that bombard you with too many facts? Having trouble seeing the "big picture"? Are you convinced that understanding history is just not something you can do as an adult? If you're like me, you had a terrible history education. (Who among us actually liked history in high school? Who among us learned anything of value?!)
After graduating from college, I started to really learn history for myself. I had to...I was teaching it! I already had a love of art as well, and these two passions slowly came together. For the past three years, I've been using art to enjoy history even more and to help my homeschooling students across the country better understand history as part of the HistoryAtOurHouse curriculum. The verdict is in. Students and parents agree: it's awesome! Art really helps bring the past to life. In fact, it has worked so well, I decided to pass on the the unique benefits of this program to adults.
History is about the past. As obvious as that is, to recognize this simple fact helps us to understand why history can be so difficult to learn. There's no way to experience history directly. The only way to learn about the past is to read about it. As engaging as some writers can be, it still takes a ton of reading to piece together the story of the past. Even if you're willing to make that effort, and even if you are able to assimilate all of history's stories, what you're left with in the end is a lot of abstract information that isn't easy to connect to your life here and now.
That's where art can help.
Art has the ability to show us the past in visual form. Simply put, art lets us see history. In some ways, art can function much like photography and film do today. But art can also do so much more than document history. As we'll see throughout this course, art can represent much more than just a moment in time. It can depict the meaning of history.
This is where the power of art can transform our awareness of history. The value of history lies not in its myriad facts, but in their meaning. In most instances, however, the meaning of events is the most difficult thing to grasp of all. After you've performed the research, you still need to do a lot of difficult thinking. Although there are no short cuts or "quick fixes" when it comes to this challenge, there are tools for facilitating the process. Art is one such tool. Through art we can see history's meaning.
It's a cliche, but it's true: a picture really is worth a thousand words! In fact, when it comes to history, a picture--if it's a great work of art--might be worth a lot more than that!
In every lecture, you'll get an essentialized history lesson to help you learn the story or recapture the context. Then we will examine works of art that help us visualize the characters and events--and that help us grasp and retain the meaning of the story. Every lesson will combine the power of history and art!