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Homeschoolers learn history lessons through programs for youth in Blue Earth County

History comes to life in Mankato when a young girl portrays a southern man from the 1920s.
History comes to life in Mankato when a young girl portrays a southern man from the 1920s.
Chris Oldenburg

Homeschooling families in Minnesota have unique opportunities to learn about history. Many people envision history lessons as boring, stagnant, and lifeless. The Blue Earth County Historical Society (BECHS) brings history to life through popular programming for youth.

Open to grades 3-6, Young Historians meet once a month in Mankato to discover a new topic in history. Junior Historians, those in grades 7-12, meet with the Young Historians and have involvement in planning the activities as well. There is also an optional Club comprised of both Young and Junior Historians that meets after the regular meeting with extra activities.

The groups meet on the 2nd Saturday of each month throughout the regular school year, from 10:00-noon, at various locations. These meetings are free, and each month a new topic is explored in depth.

Last month the topics covered the U.S. involvement in WWII and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, but they were taught in an unconventional way. Several Junior Historians studied the time periods and then held a debate for the other youth. These debaters had to be able to support and argue for the position assigned to them, even if they did not agree with it.

One such Junior Historian, a local homeschooled student, Alex, had to support a position that was against the Women’s Suffrage Movement. This was a challenging idea to support for Alex, a girl who has grown up in a world where girls and women have rights and opportunities every day.

Alex decided the best way for her to accurately portray this part would be to speak from the point of view of a liquor dealer from the south, who also happened to be a man. In her research Alex found Samuel Hahn, and brought him to life during her debate.

When her turn came, Alex sauntered into the room, complete with men’s dress attire and a moustache. She spoke with a southern accent (a challenge for a girl from Minnesota) about the duties of men and women and how women belonged in the home, keeping away from the business of men.

Afterward Alex said that even though the position she took was personally difficult for her, she learned more about this time period by having to defend this side. She felt that it would have been easy to speak for equal rights, but that when forced to look outside of a comfort zone she was able to gain a better understanding of this time in history.

Homeschooling families seeking to participate in Young/Junior Historians can contact Jessica at BECHS. History is always coming alive with this group of area youth, and the lessons are not all found in books.
 

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