16th 2007
Not a very good story

Posted under: unhappy endings

In the last post, I mentioned something about how your children might not want to have Historiann over to tell bedtime stories.  My winning ways with young children go back many, many years.  In 1995 when I was still an earnest graduate student, I visited a friend of mine who had a 5 year old.  Hannah was in love with the movie Pocahontas, which the Walt Disney deathstar had just foisted on the unsuspecting public.  (I’ve come to really like the movie as an entertainment product–good songs and animation, and I’ve even used it in teaching my survey class.)  As an earnest graduate student with little familiarity with young children, I felt the need to tell Hannah the “real story” of Pocahontas.  So, I said, “Actually, Pocahontas didn’t love John Smith, she married a man named John Rolfe.  She then visited England, and died of smallpox there.”  Like all sensible five-year olds (and many undergraduates, actually), Hannah paid polite attention to the clueless adult, then turned away and continued chattering away about the Pocahontas she wanted to believe in.

A few years later, Hannah’s mother called to tell me that the story I told lived on, much to her surprise.  She said that Hannah was playing with a friend at her house, who said, “let’s play Pocahontas!”  Hannah then said, “Do you want to hear the real story of Pocahontas?  Well, she didn’t love John Smith, she married John Rolfe, and went to England and died of smallpox.”  Hannah’s friend blinked, and then said, “Well, that’s not a very good story!”

And that, my friends, is why Disney makes the big money, and chumps like me dig under the couch cushions for loose change.

1 Comment »

One Response to “Not a very good story”

  1. Jenny James on 26 May 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Just found your link and it’s fine.
    I like this story, at least the little girl remembered what you told her.
    The state of history education in this country is deplorable, god knows what the teabaggers will do to the books. My kids hated history. I loved it. All you have to do to like history is read a lot of good novels, and go on from there.

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