When I was in middle school, ancient history was the bane of my existence. I balked at all the facts I was supposed to care about, gave lackluster effort toward the chapter quizzes, spent most of my time lamenting over the old marble men of yore, and defaced my textbook by drawing pupils and irises onto all the hollow-eyed busts (as an adult, I just add googly eyes.)
A hands-on approach to world history makes a difference.
Even though I stubbornly insisted ancient history was pointless — sorry, mom! — if you would have talked to the seventh-grade me about the extravagantly tiered Hanging Gardens of Babylon, I’d have sprung to life, rattling off fact after fact about this wonder of the ancient world, indignant at your insinuation that these incredible gardens might not have existed at all. Why? Because I built a miniature version of the Hanging Gardens out of styrofoam, and the hands-on immersion cemented it in my brain and secured my loyalty forever more. Tactile experiences made an impression on me, bookworm and writer though I was. (Maybe let’s not mention the Borax-salt paste my brother and I slathered on the metal microscope before we reshelved it and forgot about it.)