Why Study History?
I wrote this a couple of years ago as I pondered the importance of including a good history study course in schools and as part of a home schooling program for children. An essential part of maintaining a republic is ensuring the citizens that make up the republic understand history and how it relates to current events. Thus, I now share the piece I wrote below:
Why Study History?
“Why do I need to learn history,” is a lament often heard from many people. “It is just a collection of dates and dead people’s names. It is not important.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
History can be “Just a collection of dates and dead people’s names.”
However, history goes far beyond dates and dead people’s names. History is really a collection of stories. Everyone loves a good story. While reading these stories from the past the reader can not only learn how people did things long ago, they can also reveal why things are the way they are.
Study Before Deciding
Do you want to eliminate the Electoral College?
Before embarking on that course, first learn the history of the Electoral College and discover why the Founding Fathers designed it
Do you want to criticize and hate on Christopher Columbus?
First it may be helpful to study Christopher Columbus’ motivations and learn the long term results of Columbus’ discoveries before judging him.
Do you want to worry about climate change?
First, learn about the history of climate change and the role it has had in shaping our world over the eons that the planet has existed.
Think of history as a tapestry that is never finished. Each part of a tapestry’s design is essential to the entire scene. So it is with history. We are all part of that tapestry and we continue to add our part to it as we live our lives. The people and events of long ago touch our lives in many more ways than we can imagine.
If you live in the United States, the chances are good that you or your ancestors came here from somewhere else. Even Native Americans came to this continent from somewhere else. Finding out when and why you or your ancestors migrated away from their native lands can be instructive and important to your own life. The foods your family eats, the way they celebrate, or don’t celebrate, certain holidays all have roots in your own, or your families, history.
Only by studying history can we make informed choices as citizens. Faced with two candidates running for political office and not sure who to choose? Listen not so much to their rhetoric, but study their history. What have they said, or done in the past? Past words and actions are more an indicator as what they will do than current campaign slogans or what their opponents say about them. Also, study their proposals and study the history of the things they want to change. How did the situation they want to change get into its current state? Is the problem really a problem? Has the candidate’s solutions been tried before? What was the result if they were?
Past, Present and Future
History is more important than many people realize, as past events and people have created this moment in time. Only by understanding the past can we understand the present and plan for the future.