Our mission at Time Traveler Tours & Tales is to Make. History. Fun.

So this summer, to test whether we are on the right track, Team TTT&T surveyed dozens of teachers and parents of teens and 'tweens on the challenges they face turning young people on to history.

We reveal some of their survey responses, paraphrased and thematically grouped, below.


Please feel free to add your own in the comments following this post...


Challenge #1: History is Dry, Dull, Difficult

The way history is presented is all too often dry and not always developmentally appropriate.”

”No amount of outlining textbook content will help my son to memorize dates and understand time-lines. For him, this just makes the study of history difficult.”

”I teach 6th grade and somehow by the time students reach me, history’s already got a bad name.”

”Leading figures in history have been reduced to names and dates on a history test.”

”The teaching of history seems to display a linear progression of public events, a changing landscape of wars and kingdoms and governments. That’s the perfect presentation to fit a test-driven society, but not one that tells the whole story.

Response: Make History Personal.

Connect historical characters and events to kids’ own lives.”

”Have them interview their elders, record these stories, then make their own time-lines, linking the lives of their ancestors to historical times and places.”

”Offer kids first-hand experiences, like field trips and theater-based activities, that help them imagine the world then, so that they may build valid associations to now.”

”Offer them great, age-appropriate biographies of fascinating historical characters pitched to their particular interest and reading level.

Challenge #2: Comprehending Time in the Past

Helping students to understand the concept of time, e.g., 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, is a huge challenge.”

”Kids are bored by the distant past.”

”They think, ‘Old equals boring.’ They ask, ‘Why should this matter to me?’

Response: Make History Accessible and Relevant.

Use authentic, or primary source, materials, such as music, art, food, toys, fashion. These things make history more ‘real’ to students.”

”Show them that history is always repeating itself; that it isn’t just events that happened once in a linear fashion, but have recurred throughout time and all over the world.”

”In every major time period, there is one thing that has shaped the way kids live today. Make it like a mystery for them to figure out.”

”Encourage young people to read novels set in the era being studied. The greatest stories share the humanity in history and can be found in literature.

Challenge #3: It Doesn’t Concern Me

It’s the same attitude they have toward math: ‘When am I gonna use this?’”

”If young people don’t see how something has an effect on them, they find it difficult to care.”

”Students are history illiterate. They don’t understand the value of looking backward.”

”Students don’t see how history is relevant to what they need to get a job.

Response: Make History Real.

STORIES! That’s what makes history come alive. Travis and Crockett at the Alamo. Henry VIII. Lincoln at Gettysburg. Shooting the tsar in the cellar. Hitler in his bunker while Berlin burns. First steps on the moon. Malcolm X and Dr. King. Who could make up somebody like Ivan the Terrible?”

”All my greatest history teachers, from grade school to college, were also great storytellers.”

”I think it’s important to emphasize the stories in history – complete with hook, character development, story arc, and relevance to today.”

”Show them that history is a giant story full of rich characters and fascinating settings.

So, what do you think? Are we on the right track? Does the world have room for a company whose sole mission is to Make. History. Fun?

*  *  *

Learn all about our dramatically-new Curriculum Handbook,
from TTT&T Curriculum Developer, Marcie Colleen.

Turning kids on to history?

Join our Teacher Vanguard today!