Children can gain an understanding of their local history and a sense of
connection to it if they
learn the origins of local names on such places as
schools, streets, parks,
and other topographical features.
Some names - Lincoln, Hoover, Mark Twain - are well-known Americans
who made worthy contributions
to our society. Telling our children about these
people will give them an
appreciation and understanding of why streets and
schools were named after
People of other origins are represented with such names as Cowper
(England), Pasteur (France),
and Portola (Spain). It is likely that children will run
into these names outside
of our area.
National and international names such as these are common in every part
of our country. Our lifetimes
have seen a trend in which we can now find the
same names on restaurants
and stores from one end of our land to another.
These are no longer markers
that distinguish one place from another.
What, then, does make any one town different from another nowadays?
Part of this distinction
can be found in local names.
We use geographic identifiers in our speech almost every day with the
names of our schools, streets,
parks and nearby landmarks. Each of these
names, and many more, come
from people who were early settlers of an area.
Local connections are abundant in every community. Your historical
association is a resource
for tracing names to the early times of the founding of
The skill of tracking down the namesake for a local point of interest will
serve your child well in
her education. It wonít be too long before she will be
doing much more rigorous
research than that! Start her off early with the
answers to local questions
and watch her gain confidence as she eventually
explores the rest of the
world with the same thirst for knowledge.
This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís Advice