ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Living History as Education for Your Children About Pioneer Life

Updated on April 22, 2012

Pioneer Cabin Chores

rolling out the bread dough pioneer style
rolling out the bread dough pioneer style
grinding the wheat
grinding the wheat
sifting the wheat
sifting the wheat
washing the clothes
washing the clothes

Jay Anderson describes living history as "the simulation of life in another time" or an imitation of our past. However, Richard Handler and William Saxton in Cultural Anthropology,describe Jay Anderson as a folklorist who is attempting to "legitimate living history as a scholarly subdiscipline" (Dyssimulation: Reflexivity, Narrative, and the Quest for Authenticity in “Living History”; Volume 3, Issue 3, page 242-260, August 1988). Not a very flattering description of Mr. Anderson or living history. But I believe living history is ideally suited for history education particularly in the young. As a statement of my belief I recently took my own girls to a living history museum.

We visited the Pioneer Farm Museumin Eatonville, Washington. The museum featured an 1887 homestead including cabins, a barn, a blacksmith shop, carpentry shop and a school house. Although there was the typical museum section were the girls were not allowed to touch anything it was preceded by enough fascinating hands on exhibits that the girls stood quietly for the speech about the authentic pioneer cabins. Before that speech the girls got to try their hands at real pioneer chores in a replica cabin, barn and carpentry shop. (They were to young to work in the blacksmith shop though they did get to watch a demonstration of how it would have worked.) The guides were full of fascinating tidbits about pioneer life. For example using the cinnamon grater that was typical for the time it would take 15 minutes to grate enough cinnamon for one apple pie. The girls got a glimpse of something outside their experience.

I would have to agree with Kate Stover in her article "Is it Real History Yet? An Update On Living History Museums" (Journal of American Culture; Volume 12, Issue 2, pages 13-17, Summer 1989) that, this museum at least, had a tendency to focus on the object as sacred rather than the history of the time as a whole. However even if it is true that "the museums pander to the public, portray an entertaining, simplistic and nostalgic past, and neglect historical change and historical conflict" that does not have to be a problem for your efforts to teach your child history. If you understand that the museum is only going to give your child a glimpse of history and create a platform for further study than the living history museum can become a wonderful tool.

For the entire trip home (and it was long) my daughter had questions about pioneer life. What was it really like? What would she have done if she had been a pioneer? What would Daddy and Mommy have done? How were things different? And with only a little effort you can direct your child's inquiring until you've created a full an accurate picture of the time, what reasons were there for the way they did things, how have things changed and what caused those changes.

However, it is best to be prepared. As I said my daughter was full of questions nearly the moment we left. Or have several age appropriate history books ready to read. Your local librarian will be happy to help you find the ideal books. Most museums will have a selection of books to purchase but, while they are all related to the time the museum is portraying it can be difficult to find books of interest to younger children.

So look for a living history museum near you. Bring the words of history off the page. Children have a limited range of experiences and such museums can easily open whole new worlds that your children have not previously imagined. And, should your child truly enjoy the experience consider involvement in re-enacted events. Stephen Hunt in "Acting the part: 'living history' as a serious leisure pursuit" (Leisure Studies, Volume 23, Number 4, October 2004, pages 387-403(17)) might state that re-enacted events "are not primarily an educational experience" but are instead a serious hobby that promotes "camaraderie, collective involvement, and a subjective understanding of authenticity" but again they have a use in helping your child pursue their education in history. Furthermore, reenactment provides your child with a group of comrades interested in the same time period or event. Reenactment will probably be of the most interest to boys as it typically revolves around soldiers and battles.

However your choose to pusure your history education I wish you and your children well.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Nils Visser profile image

      Nils Visser 

      7 years ago from Brighton UK

      Nice one!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)