Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Don't Let That Be You: Learning Lessons From the Past

I read an article about the wanton Islamic State of Syria, Iraq, and the Levant (ISIL) destruction of historic artifacts that come under their control. In particular, the ancient city of Palmyra, which is located within the geography of Syria that ISIL has taken, has fallen victim to their selfish and barbaric practices. But, there was a bit more in the article that tempted me to do some research. The Palmyran Empire was led, in the third century, by Queen Zenobia.

Third Century means the years of 200 - 299 anno Domini (A.D.), and Zenobia's reign was short (267 - 274 A.D.). So, who cares? Well, she was interesting. Her lineage is in question. Evidence points to her having been of Aramaic blood, which puts her in a language category that includes Hebrew as well as Arabic. Other sources indicate that she was all Arab and from one of four original Palmyran tribes. What I get out of this was that she was a cool chick, and everybody claims that she was from their tribe. So, if you see it that way too, how was she a cool chick?

Zenobia is described as being an exceptional beauty; tall, raven-haired, well-tanned (darkness with dark eyes), and many folks debated about who was prettier, Zenobia or Cleopatra, although the latter Egyptian Queen had been 200 years dead before Zenobia kept guys up at night. She was as likely to be found riding, hunting, and drinking with the guys as well as holding court with the ladies. She spoke three languages and she could hold her own intellectually among the philosophers and poets of her time. But, beyond all of that, something else set her apart. She was a natural leader.

Her father, a tribal leader, was assassinated. The tribe elected her to lead them, which she did. This was noticed by the reigning Palmyran King, who married her (his second marriage). He had a son with her, but he also had a son (who would be his heir) from his first marriage. Both the King and his heir were assassinated. I can find nothing to suggest that she was responsible for either of these assassinations. Instead, she stood up when her tribe needed her, and as Queen, she went after the Sasanian Empire (Persians, geography is modern Iran), who would be the most likely suspects. The Palmyran Army followed her to take land from them. Cunningly, she claimed that she also was protecting the Eastern Roman Empire. By this time, Rome was the superpower of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Something happened to make her take on the Roman Prefect of Egypt. Whatever it was, at the end of it, the Prefect was dead, and Zenobia, the Queen of Palmyra also became the Queen of Egypt! She continued to claim that the now greater Palmyran Empire protected the Eastern Empire of Rome. The Romans did not see it that way. They crushed her empire. But, what happened to Zenobia?

We know this much: She and her son were captured. The Romans allowed her to be seen one last time by her people in Palmyra. She was shackled and chained, but these restraints were made of gold. Then, she and her son were taken away to Rome as Palmyra was subsumed by the Roman Empire. Her son died during the voyage, but she simply disappeared. A rumor of her execution was passed about. But, was one of the most interesting and beautiful Queens quietly executed? I think not. There are intriguing reports of Roman Emperor Aurelian's appreciation for this woman who was a living work of art, with the courage of a lion and the wisdom of scholars. Unlike ISIL, he surely protected this work of art that had come under his control. Web search him and her to see if you agree. We've all heard it, some more often than others: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes." This saying has gained the reputation as history teachers' official motto when speaking to students who care more about what time the bell rings than what people did hundreds of years ago. However, behind the initial warning are three more truths that we can glean from in-depth historical study.

First, those who study history do not necessarily learn from it. Behind every disaster in history was a selfish decision, a corrupt motivation, or a foolhardy choice. The sinking of the Titanic, the Boston Massacre, the Spanish Armada, World War I, and the Bolshevik Revolution-to name a few-now appear as warnings in our history books. So many lives were changed forever because of the actions of those who understood history but did not change their approach for future decisions. Studying history requires much more than memorization; it requires knowledge of cause and effect that touches us on a personal level.

Second, studying the people who created history appeals much more to our humanity than an overview of events does. History did not make the mistakes. People did. Study the pioneers, the congressmen, the revolutionaries. Were they acting on their own? Were they swept up in the emotions of the mob? Were they reacting to the injustices of their government? There is both wisdom and caution to be found in peoples' stories. The more familiar we become with those who went before us, the more we can better understand ourselves and why we do the things we do.

Third, once history is learned, the individual has the choice to make different decisions not only for themselves but also for future generations. The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines history as past events that relate to a particular subject, place, or organization. Likewise, history in a personal sense can be defined as humanity's cycle of influence throughout generations. Even temporary influences affected someone throughout the course of history, and that someone surely used those past ideologies to shape his own generation, continuing the cycle of influence. The past never truly dies, as it goes on through the living. In an effort to meet state standards, schools today have implemented rigorous academic programs that push kids to reach their highest potential. Yet, almost every child struggles at some point with mastering the material covered in the core subjects. Whether a child is having trouble understanding complicated equations or just needs some support with comprehending what they are reading, academic tutoring outside of their school day makes a difference in their learning. If you can already hear your child groaning at the thought of having a tutor, rest assured that there is a kid-friendly approach to extracurricular learning that will have your child eager to attend their lessons.

Individualized Targeted Instruction
In a typical public school setting, a teacher may have approximately twenty or more kids in their classroom, which makes it hard to slow down if a child cannot keep up with everyone else's pace. This is why tutoring sessions should always be one-on-one. This way, the tutor can observe your child's learning style and tailor the instruction to fit their needs. For example, a tutor may notice that a child learns best by playing interactive math games rather than doing paper and pencil problems. In this instance, they could plan some fun math games to play during homework breaks that stimulate learning.

Real Life Applications
After a long day at school, the last thing most kids want to do is homework. It is also common for parents to simply lack the time to spend hours helping their child complete a project. Quality after-school tutoring programs offer homework assistance along with additional support for research projects. Tutors can help kids set up a schedule to ensure they meet a project deadline. They can also help kids find references, learn how to take notes and build a bibliography. When kids see the effects of their tutoring sessions on actual school assignments, they will be more likely to take learning seriously.

Dedicated Study Area
Having a quiet place to study sets the tone for learning, which is why the right tutoring approach for kids always includes a dedicated study space. Upon entering their study area, a child is able to get mentally prepared for learning. Ideally, it should be away from noisy activities and it should have everything a child needs to work on their homework. For example, computers should be available for researching new information and typing essays. Reference books, such as dictionaries and thesauruses, also make it possible for kids to quickly access the information they need without wasting time searching.

Enrichment Opportunities
While some tutoring programs focus solely on the core subjects, it has been discovered that kids need a variety of learning experiences to round out their education. For this reason, the best tutoring program for kids will include enrichment opportunities that support academic learning. For example, playing chess teaches problem-solving skills that apply to mathematics and science. Alternatively, taking drama class develops speech and language abilities that apply to reading. Including these types of programs into your child's day will make learning fun.

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