A Deeper Understanding of History for Third Graders

In 3rd Grade, Collegiate's Lower School students begin to study Virginia history. Everyone, past and present, has a story to tell. The 3rd Graders go back in time to take a closer look at Powhatan Indians and English colonists, analyzing various aspects of their lives. What did each group believe? What did they want? How did they dress? What jobs did they have? What language did they speak? Each 3rd Grade historian then compares and contrasts his or her life to the lives of those in the past. They keep beneficial ideologies and adapt not-so-successful decisions.
In order for Lower School students to understand the concept of these types of stories, John Dau, Collegiate's Global Scholar-in-Residence, visited each class and shared a bit of his history and childhood in South Sudan. Some of his insights included: 
  • In South Sudan, family names carry a great deal of pride and meaning to each individual. These names serve as the cornerstone of a child’s education. South Sudanese children memorize everyone’s first names from 12 generations, on each side of their family. First names versus surnames are the most important name in the South Sudan. 
  • History is told and passed on through family members via stories rather than read in history books and taught in school. 
  • Stories about family members, described with qualities and traits, are the fabric of how villages are judged amongst one another. Everyone in a village must contribute their individual responsibilities and everyone takes great pride in them. 
Today, it is important to Mr. Dau to honor parts of the South Sudanese culture and the parts of American culture with his children. One example is when someone comes to their home, each family member is expected to greet and say goodbye to visitors at the door. Mr. Dau’s family feels deeply that each guest is an angel brought to bring them something special and the visitor should feel their gratitude and kindness. Collegiate School may have something to learn from these practices.