Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Biography

I think that the biography (or autobiography) is a very powerful teaching tool.  I love to read about others because of two main reasons:
  1. I get to learn from their mistakes.
  2. They inspire me to greatness.
I have read a lot of biographies and again and again I come away with the inspiration to be better.

Elder Maxwell's biography taught me I need to submit.
Elder Nelson's biography taught me that I need to obey.
George Washington's biography taught me I need to do hard things.
Abigail Adams biography taught me to do my duty.
Abraham Lincoln's biography taught me that greatness is achieved after a lifetime of trying.
Ralph Moody's writings taught me that my parents can teach me a lot if I'll just listen to them.
Louis L'Amour's autobiography taught me the importance of reading great books.
Karl Marx's biography taught me that Satan wants to destroy humanity.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali's autobiography taught me that I can triumph over any adversity.
Ji-li Jiang's autobiography taught me that government is not always good.
Clearance Thomas's autobiography taught be that humans can rise out of any situation.
Joseph Smith's biography taught me that great people come from great families.
William Tyndale's biography taught me that we must do what we must no matter the results.
Corrie Ten Boom's autobiography taught me that faith in God can see us through anything.

These are only some examples.  Of course I knew most of these things already from scripture study, but reading about these principles in action further clarified in me the desire to do the right thing.  They inspired me to seek personal greatness and to avoid other's mistakes.

Biographies are also a great way to learn history.  For that reason we read a lot of biographies in our home.

The practical application of this may include:
  • Read a biography as a family and discuss it.
  • Have a child pick a biography to read on their own and then write a short essay.
  • Recognize a trait that yourself or your family needs improvement on and read about someone you know who overcame it.
  • After reading about someone present oral reports to the family and field questions about biographies read.
  • Act out an important scene in someones life, this solidifies the heroic event in your children's lives.
  • Study the history and politics of this time period in addition to the person for further understanding of the world they live in.
  • Identify key traits and then set personal/family goals to acquire these traits.
  • Recognize these key traits in others you know personally and thank them for their example in living this principle.
  • Identify attributes, behaviors or habits, for good or bad, that the person had and discuss or write why having these traits led to success and why, or how a bad habit resulted in a negative situation.
  • Compare and contrast the person's core values with yours.  Why did they believe that way? Is it truth?
I believe that biographies should play a huge role in our home education experience.  Remember many of the scriptures are the biographies and histories of our prophets.  I conclude since God used so much space in the sacred canon on reviewing people's lives it is important!


kitchenrecovery said...

That is a good point, very true, I think. I'll have to read more.
Ezra Taft Benson's biography taught me to do what is right, let the consequence follow.
Funny how most of the lessons from each book can be summed up in one sentence!

Christy said...

Nice to have you posting again!
Do you have a list of favorite biographies? I'm sure there are several biographies about Washington, for example. Which did you enjoy reading? I hesitate to read biographies of the founding fathers, since during my adolescence most of the things I was told to read about them (in AP English) sought to discredit them and point out all of their weaknesses.

crazy4boys said...

Any recommendations on a biography for a boy who thinks he has the worst life in the whole world and that nothing works right for him?????

Kimberly said...

I enjoyed Tisha and My Place-those are both worth a read. Very interesting.

Celeste B. said...

Great post! I have been thinking of some of these points as well, but you clarified them better than I can.

My son likes to focus on "real" stories of people. He knows that means they are non-fiction and biographies, but he still likes to call them "real". Knowing that a story is real helps to bring the stories to a whole new level of truth. How people behave in stressful situations and severe trials is a fantastic learning tool, both in the right and the wrong way to handle the situation or trial.

Celeste B. said...

crazy4boys - I think Ralph Moody's books are fantastic for boys. The first book is "Little Britches". Ralph did not have an easy life, but he also did not let things get him down. Throughout their trials, he is an example of hard work, determination, and positive attitude.