Current Issues
History Now Part of the Past?
January 5, 2010

Institutionally, our country fosters historical amnesia. In 1995, the U.S. Department of Education reported that more than half of all high school seniors hadn’t even the most basic understanding of American history.

Learning from the Past

Thomas Jefferson wrote that schooling in America should be “chiefly historical.” He said, “The people are the ultimate guardians of their own liberty. History, by apprising them of the past, will enable them to judge of the future. It will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men.” A century later Woodrow Wilson agreed that history endows us with “the invaluable mental power, which we call judgment.”

Our founding fathers believed that democracy has a special need for education and history, because democracy is government by the people. The people must acquire “democratic virtues” and learn through instructive examples from history respect for the rights of individuals, regard for the law, voluntary participation in public life, and concern for the common good.

A Sense of Perspective

David McCullough has stated, “Indifference to history isn’t just ignorant; it’s a form of ingratitude. And the scale of our ignorance seems especially shameful in the face of our unprecedented good fortune. … I’m convinced that history encourages, as nothing else does, a sense of proportion about life, gives us a sense of how brief is our time on earth and thus how valuable that time is.”

History recounts important stories of events and people who can serve as models of who to be, and not to be, what to be involved with and what to avoid and can serve as the basis of decision-making all our lives.

Recent article in World News Daily:

Hollywood celebrities and education gurus have teamed together to distribute to schools across the country a dramatic new curriculum that casts American history as an epic march of victims seeking to shrug off the shackles of the warmongering, racist, capitalist, imperialist United States.

The History Channel’s airing of the “The People Speak” last night marks the public coming-out party of a movement that has been in place since last year to teach America’s school children a “social justice” brand of history that rails against war, oppression, capitalism and popular patriotism.