The Most Important History Lesson You Never Learned

It was the primary day of lessons my junior 12 months in a small-town high school in Arkansas in 1983 – Jim Owen’s World Historical past class.

Mr. Owen had a popularity for being one of many hardest lecturers in school, but in addition among the best.

Class began the way in which most others do on the primary day: The instructor launched himself, defined what the category was about, what number of assessments there could be, how the grading would work, and so forth.

All of it appeared like a traditional day…till 20 minutes in.

history lesson

The First Shock Of The Class

4 teenaged boys burst into the room, all carrying ski masks and brandishing weapons. “No person transfer!” they shouted. They went on to the entrance the place they proceeded to knock Mr. Owen to the bottom, relieve him of his pockets, steal the grade guide off his desk, and depart as shortly as they got here in.

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It was throughout in lower than 15 seconds, leaving the scholars paralyzed in shock.

When the mud settled, Mr. Owen rose to his toes. “I’m advantageous. Is everybody okay?” We assured him we had been.

He then defined that what we had simply witnessed was staged.

These youngsters had been his college students final 12 months and had agreed to participate in a mock felony exercise. They usually had achieved their job properly.

“Your first task,” he continued, “is to take out a sheet of paper and write down every part that simply occurred in as a lot element as attainable.”

Nonetheless considerably in shock, the category complied. Ten minutes later, he requested the scholars at hand of their papers. He then learn each aloud to the category.

That’s when the third shock of that fourth-period class hit. The tales had been astonishing of their variations within the account of the info.

Most claimed there have been 4 boys; some claimed there have been three. Some mentioned there have been three boys and one woman. One mentioned the weapons had been all actual weapons; most mentioned they regarded like plastic water pistols painted black.

Some insisted Mr. Owen had been hit throughout the mugging. Most mentioned he wasn’t touched in any respect.

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Mr. Owen continued to learn whereas we sat and listened.

The Most Vital Historical past Lesson You By no means Realized

When he completed, he put down the final paper and mentioned, “Historical past is recorded from the attitude of the individuals who write it. As we’ve simply discovered, that may be very totally different, relying on the writer.”

“The victors in conflict will keep in mind issues in a different way than the vanquished. The teams in political energy will certainly see issues from a unique perspective than these not in energy. Please preserve that in thoughts as we start our journey by world historical past. Now . . . open your books, and switch to chapter one.”

That was nearly 25 years in the past. However I keep in mind it prefer it was yesterday.

The Takeaway

Studying history taught many important lessons that year. However essentially the most beneficial and lasting one could have been discovered on that first day, due to Mr. Owen’s daring and stunning instructing method. Although Mr. Owen stopped this system after the tragedy of Columbine, this lesson is among the many legacies he left for a technology of younger minds.

What legacy will you permit?


Paul SmithPaul Smith is a bestselling writer who’s latest guide, Parenting with a Story, paperwork 101 inspiring classes like this one that will help you (and your children) construct the type of character anybody could be pleased with. He’s a keynote speaker and coach on management and storytelling based mostly on his bestselling guide Lead with a Story. You possibly can find Paul at and observe him on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

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