Sunday, June 19, 2011

Repeating History

Deplorable. That is the only way to describe the latest on history education in the United States.

History-Test Scores Show Scant Progress (Wall Street Journal)

Having excelled from elementary school all the way through earning two degrees in the subject, and having considered teaching high school history at one point, it is often disheartening to cross paths with people who possess not even a basic familiarity. From my dad’s own interest, I inherited a fondness for history. Together, the two of us would dissect movies based on historical events, encyclopedias – hard-bound, printed versions, in the way back time before Wikipedia – in hand to check and correct them. (Thus, explaining why friends, and occasionally family, are contemptuously reluctant to ever watch such movies with me.) Throughout my formal education I was always inspired by my teachers and professors, drawn to the individuals, events and lessons of the past. Taught to think critically in interpreting the topics, issues and themes in a logical and objective manner – a point that could be applied to other subjects as well.

Teacher Is Taught A Tough Lesson (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

In failing to properly teach an understanding and appreciation of the past, we are losing the future. A future in which critical thinking and rational objectivity cannot exist. How could it, when those same qualities barely register today? Click over to YouTube, or any similar website, and see what I mean – few winners, a whole lot of losers. Unfortunately, not simply just as a desperate subconscious group plea to garner views and be justifiably mocked; at some point, genes play a role.

Critical Thinking:

Not So Much:

The future is not lost though. Not yet. As the Roman orator Cicero stated, “History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.” If future generations fail to embrace such sentiment concerning the past, they will, as Winston Churchill warned, be doomed to repeat it.

©2011 Steve Sagarra

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