Story for the Day: History Lessons
History, though never the most agreeable subject for a child to learn, is a requisite. The many leaders, battles, and treaties served to improve understanding and build a connection between child and nation, and though all the minutiae of dates, names, years, and epitaphs could be interesting to the tutor, they could only bore those who had been used to archery, swordplay, and hunting as their principle subjects. Arithmetic was only second on the list of most tedious subjects to learn where the order of kings and queens of Frewyn was concerned, for though numbers and equations confounded them, history, though strewn with many tales of woe-begotten love and terrific wars, easily became the most tedious and dreaded of all lessons. One sessions of Frewyn history had been added to Soledhan and Little Jaicobh’s tutelage to give them the background of their heritage, and though the Brother who came to teach them heralded his lessons in lively tenor, the jumble of dates and monarchs was lost on two children who were so used to the animation that outdoor exploration could afford.
While the exhibition of arms and livery was only of mild interest to the children, Hathanta gloried in the information, sitting at the back of the library and remarking the Brother bound from one side of the parchment board to the other. With such a fervent display, Hathanta wondered at the children’s apparent disinterest: Soledhan sat slumped over the table, his round cheeks resting in his palms, his head drooping between bent elbows, with mouth slightly parted eyes glazed from glaring at the Brother without regarding him, and Little Jaicobh, who was forever laughing, smiling, and bumbling about, was quiet and seemed bemused. The Brother was in the midst of a captivating reenactment of the Battle of First Union, teaching Hathanta’s students in the same manner that he had taught it to Dorrin, Ennan, Fionnora, and Ouryn that morning, and though the four children had enjoyed his interpretation with little wooden horses and a small replica of First King Allun riding across the map of a disjointed Old Frewyn, Soledhan and Little Jaicobh who were used to frolicking through their lessons under the auspices of sunshine and open air, found no stimulation in the Brother’s whoopings and hurrahs as First King Allun leaped over the Westren wall and stormed the chief’s stronghold. Hathanta’s style of autonomous lessons had ruined them for sitting in chairs and scribbling notes for hours together. Hathanta was certainly keen to learn about the history of the kingdom that had been his home these past few years, but his curiosity was of a calmer and more self-governing hue whereas his students could not wait to be running about in the royal hunting grounds digging for grubs and watching the trout bob upon and down along the stream.
First King Allun killed the Chief of Westren, and with one last profession of might, Allun proclaimed himself ruler of a united Frewyn, and the lesson had done. The children leapt from their chairs, shouted their thanks to the Brother as they hastened to quit the room, and escaped hand in hand before they could be given any work to do to show their retention of the lessons. Hathanta, partially shamed at his students’ behaviour, apologized to the Brother and said his due approbation of such an entertaining iteration.
“Aye,” the Brother chuckled. “We can’t have everyone be so interest as you, Mr Hathanta.” He shrugged. “I make it as entertainin’ as I woulda liked when I was leanrin’ it. I had a Sister for a teacher who just read everythin’ from the text what was in front-a her and then expected us to know everythin’. Children are quick learners, sure, but they gotta be presented the lesson in a way they understand. Can’t be read to like an adult.”
Hathanta smiled and bowed his acquiescence.
“Many at the Church don’t approve my style-a teachin’, but most of the children like it. What I do is for ‘em, not for the Reverend Mothers.” The Brother raised his brows and motioned toward the door. “And it’s not easy entertainin’ all the children either,” he said with a smile. “Their minds would always rather be elsewheres. I was the same when I was young. Can’t say I blame ‘em, Mr Hathanta.”
“Thank you for the lesson,” said Hathanta, inclining his head. “I will make certain to repeat it to them later. You are an excellent teacher, Brother, and I always learn much from you.”
To hear such praise from one so celebrated in the field of education, the Brother was all abashedness. “Aw,” he chuffed, his round cheeks warming with a blush, “that’s real generous-a you, Mr Hathanta.” He wished to say more, but he had said all that his overwhelmed sensibilities would allow. He bowed to honour the Haanta custom and walked with Hathanta to the door.