History in the makingWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
During his recent cub scout field trip to the Sylvania Historical Village, my son was formally introduced to history. He learned about how a doctor used to conduct business right out of his own home, how an entire school full of children used to learn their lessons in a single room, and how people generally used to live their lives by much more primitive means.
After six-and-a-half years of learning how we spend our days, my son is at a point where he can begin to comprehend that things weren’t always this way.
I wonder if such an understanding will be harder and harder for children to come by as we progress further and further along. Will it be more difficult for my children to imagine a time before computers, cell phones and stem cells than it was for me to imagine a time before telephones, television and antibiotics? How will they begin to grasp the concept that the world used to be a much bigger, lonelier place?
When I was growing up, my family had a fairly dated set of encyclopedias. Ignoring the fact that they were missing some very critical historical moments that had yet to make history at their publishing, I used the encyclopedias tirelessly for school projects by carefully choosing subject matter that hadn’t changed much since the mid sixties. I loved poring through the wealth of information on anything and everything contained in their volumes. It was years, however, before I took the time to really look at the very first picture displayed on the very first page, a picture I had thumbed past many a time.
It was a photo of the moon. Yet, for years I had never taken more than a very quick glance and had always assumed it was a photo of the earth One day I just happened to take a closer look and realized that it was actually the moon. But, why? Why would a set of books, mainly about everything on earth, begin with a striking photo of the moon instead of the earth?
After a minute in thought and taking consideration for the publication date, I realized that perhaps there just wasn’t a decent photo of the earth to be had at the time. It was true, the first picture of the earth from space wasn’t snapped until December of 1968, before my encyclopedias’ time. I was in my late teens and knew all about dinosaurs, ancient Rome and the invention of the light bulb, yet I still had trouble picturing a time when we were only insiders looking out with no visual of how the rest of the universe could see us. I could barely imagine such a thing.
How will my children ever be able to grasp the concept that there was life before the Internet? No question goes unanswered in our house, because even my four-year-old knows that you just “look it up online.” Even I am starting to forget what it was like to have to drive to the library or wait until the next day to ask my teacher if I had a question about something that had happened after 1965. There’s no such thing as outdated home reference when the Internet’s streaming through your house.
Perhaps more incomprehensible than how history will take its form in the eyes of my children is how their future will play out. I can hardly wrap my brain around growing new body parts in a lab, wireless electricity or the existence of an invisibility cloak outside of Harry Potter, yet those things are no longer even figments of our imagination. They are realities that are getting closer and closer to entering the mainstream and changing our lives forever. How can I possibly begin to imagine what my children’s lives will entail by the time they are watching their grandchildren grow up?
In 34 years, I have seen medicine, information and communication evolve to places I never thought possible. I have to believe that, quite literally, anything is possible.
Shannon and her husband Michael are raising three children in Sylvania. Follow her blog online at www.WhatsWithWomen.com and e-mail her at email@example.com.