History texts are woefully inadequate. Most of today's History texts, across the United States, have been so watered down in an effort to placate various special interest groups and be politically correct that there's little content left.
It's up to the teacher to draw the information together and present it in a meaningful way. However, the surest way to kill students' interest in History is to teach "names and dates".
I've always found that it's the little things that make History come alive for classes. We don't all have to dress up like George Washington or stage a mock pirate battle in front of our students to hold their interest.
Students love stories, and, after all, History is the grandest story of all. Therefore, it should be presented that way. Bring out the personal side of History's characters and the trivial tidbits of the past's great events. You will find that this will provide the matrix for a greater interest and a better understanding on the part of the student!
Yes, as the text tells us, Hannibal was the first to take an army across the Alps, but it cost him three-quarters of his army before he had even fought his first Roman. Was it worth it? Was he a hero, a patriot, an egomaniac, or simply a vengeful son? What went through his mind when the Romans tossed his brother's head in his camp?.....The possibilities are endless.
The texts don't supply the answers; they don't even supply the questions! The teacher has to research the subject and know the background behind the event. He or she has to come to class prepared to awe, inspire, and titillate; loaded to the gills with information and the enthusiasm to transmit his or her love of History to the students.
This is a tall order for today's harried teachers. Loaded down with meaningless bureaucratic meetings, buried in paperwork, less and less time to cover the required curriclum, coping with broken families, kids that have been abused, one social problem after another...but it works...and it's all worth it when that kid in the back (the one who's usually up at the office) exclaims, "Cool!" right in the middle of today's lesson.