Presidents Day 2011
How Can Kids Get New Perspective From The Founding Fathers?
As the U.S. educational system is buffeted by calls for an overhaul, rallied by documentaries like Waiting For Superman, people are beginning to think about new ways to teach old concepts.
That's why Jeff Wendt, history buff and co-author, along with his wife and illustrator Lindsay Wendt, created the children's book George and Marty's Awesome Adventures: America's Amazing Birth (www.libertysseedlings.com), in an effort to introduce the concept of living in a free country whose freedom was born through revolution to a new generation.
"When you don't have a frame of reference for fascism, it's kind of difficult to understand the gift of freedom," said Wendt, a lifelong aviator whose perspective on freedom goes beyond the conceptual. "It's like technology. My generation has always struggled with getting used to the computer age, cell phones that are more like Star Trek communicators and Web sites that show us satellite pictures of our homes. But to kids, these things have always been here. They're like the couch or the chair -- they're pieces of furniture that are normal to use. Freedom works the same way. When you're born into a free country, it's difficult to find the struggle fought by our Founding Fathers as relevant, so it's imperative that we find new ways to introduce our kids to the concept of freedom."
Wendt believes that some of the problem lies with how political movements are using comparisons to the Founding Fathers to further their agenda.
"Our kids need to learn about our history free from partisan messages," he said. "Whether or not you agree with movements like the Tea Party, which takes its name from the night our forefathers threw tea into the river as a tax protest against King George, I think we can all agree we'd prefer our kids to learn about our history without the underpinnings of the political motivations of today."
When taken as a document, for instance, Wendt believes that there are some concepts in the Declaration of Independence that can help our kids understand better the difference between the United States and other countries.
"Something most people don't realize is when our Founding Fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence that 'all men are created equal' and have 'certain unalienable rights' it was the first time in modern history that anyone decided to write these concepts down," Wendt added. "Up to that point in time, there hadn't been a single form of government built on the foundation of both the freedom AND equality of the citizen."
In the Wendt's book, they use a time travel story to bring kids back to the days of the Founding Fathers, which they believe helps hold their interest longer so that they can learn some of the key points of the creation of our nation.
"We shouldn't water down or gloss over certain key events in the American Revolution, but that doesn't mean we can't be creative in framing how we tell the story," he said. "We need to be creative in how we teach history today, so we can translate the excitement of our past into relevance in the present, but we need to take care that we don't fall into the trap of leaving out the blemishes, either. Remember, those who do not read history are typically doomed to repeat it, and we don't want that for our future generations."
About Jeff & Lindsay Wendt
Jeff has been employed in aviation for 20 plus years and has spent the last 15 training pilots in corporate jets. He has become a student of history over the last few years and is the research side of Liberty's Seedling's, LLC. He is the proud father of five children, ages ranging from infant to 15 years old. Lindsay is a full time mom and artist whose many creative talents are utilized by Liberty's Seedling's, LLC to illustrate, design, and edit. She is the proud, and busy, mother of two and step-mother of three. The kids have proven a valuable sounding board for research for this clever couple.