Watching my older son fail at the Maryland History Day competition on Saturday was one of the toughest things I’ve done as a parent. He had paced through the hours between his presentation to the judges and announcement of the awards. At the awards ceremony, his face was pale. He clenched and unclenched his hands and jaw, and stared intently at the emcees while other awards were announced. When his name wasn’t called for either the first or second place in his category, his posture sagged and I could see that he was working hard to keep his emotions under control. When we left the Retriever Athletic Center at UMBC, he stormed off ahead of me. An hour later, I had never been prouder of him, even though he had failed to accomplish an important goal.
For the next half-hour, he evaluated his own work. He spent too much time on Xbox and TV, he said. He used low-hanging fruit for source material, and was satisfied with it. He had lacked the confidence to request an interview with someone who won a Nobel Prize. He could have done a dynamic diorama instead of a static display. He could have taken the advice of his seventh-grade social studies teacher, and made the project interactive. He knew that standards in the senior division would be higher, and that he would be competing against upperclassmen, but he hadn’t made enough extra effort.
We hope that more area homeschooling parents encourage their children to tackle the challenge of events like the HHFO and/or the NHD. More than burdensome make-work or unnecessary distractions, these events can have powerful and transformative effects on young scholars.
If you would like to register your student or students in the 2013 Homeschool History Fair of the Ozarks you can obtain the necessary form here. If you are interested in National History Day in Missouri, you may contact Gail Emrie, Regional Director, at 417.836.5915, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.