“In each case I am telling a story—I think of myself as sitting around the campfire after a day on the trail, telling stories that I hope will have the members of the audience, or the readers, leaning forward just a bit, wanting to know what happens next.” – Stephen Ambrose
Grandpa Davey and I had a discussion about why some kids aren’t knowledgeable in certain subjects. One opinion he heard was that it was due to their lack of curiosity. Perhaps so, but I find my own children to be quite inquisitive and believe this to be an innate quality of children. Babies start learning immediately after birth and make incredible progress through play and observation. It isn’t until they are required to master academic subjects from a boring teacher that they lose interest.
Professor Ambrose was the antithesis of boring. Listening to a His-Story lecture on the expeditions of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark was riveting. Thomas Jefferson’s challenge of finding a Northwest Passage became real. Lewis and Clark became personalities, not just names and dates to learn for a test. History came alive as he described the explorer’s trials and tribulations crossing the uncharted west.
As a listener, I was captivated by his ability to put me in their shoes. I dreaded the bitter cold winters and going to bed sick or hungry. I imagined the primitive travel to unknown lands, discovering wild grizzlies, and peoples of a different culture. A land so expansive and awe inspiring as to make men weep. Listening to Stephen Ambrose gave me a greater understanding of the Corps of Discovery. It was an emotional journey crossing the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast. It wasn’t easy, but it was a magnificent accomplishment.
To this day, there aren’t many passes across The Rockies. My family and I must travel a good distance over Marias Pass to experience where the Great Plains edge up to the Rocky Mountain front. We wait for summer weather and unlike the explorers, we travel with blithe along maintained highways in a comfortable vehicle. I never seem to tire of the breathtaking scenery, and I often think of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and their undaunted courage.
In my homeschool lessons, may I be as inspiring as my favorite history teacher, Stephen Ambrose.