I share the same concerns as Ron Briley. He is rightly troubled by the side lining of history in favor of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses. He notes, “This view of higher education as simply providing the basis for job placement within a technological society may be understandable in light of the student loan debt burden, but it is shortsighted and fails to address the larger goals of a college education.”
A knowledge of history in all its complexities remains vital to the health of our democracy. History is more than names and dates. It helps us make sense of the world around us. It teaches us humility as we struggle to understand the complexities of human nature and the world. It shakes us from our simplistic worldview so that we can better address the problems of the world. It offers lessons and warnings if we are willing to learn from it. It forces us to see the world from different perspectives. And, of course, it offers us great stories. We should resist the transformation of education into a job training program. We are human beings not worker bots!
Read the entire article here: History News Network | I’ve Taught History for 40 Years. I’m Alarmed.
Historians need to do a better job explaining the complexities and vastness of history to non-historians. To many Americans, any change in familiar historical narratives amounts to revisionism (by which they basically mean a re-writing of history not based on evidence but on ideological preferences). Of course, we should all be concerned with false revisionism, but history is by its very nature is revisionist. We encounter new evidence, we expand what we know by including new perspectives (women, the poor, minorities, etc.), and through debates between historians. Early historical narratives are constructed with minimal evidence for purposes that have nothing to do with honest historical evaluation.
In her interview, Limerick, explained, “History doesn’t change, but a better understanding of it can change a person. And she said history is relevant to the problems we face today because good hindsight can lead to better foresight.” Hopefully Limerick’s message will be heard!
Source: Historian Patricia Limerick: We can’t change history, but we can change how we understand it | The Seattle Times
“An academic view of history that at least tries to be objective is a bit like a public good. We don’t all pay for it. But we all benefit from it. Because a basic grasp of history is, in my view, the foundation of critical thinking and democratic governance. But if history is a public good, we’re witnessing its privatization. The past has become a commodity that can be manufactured, packaged and sold to audiences eager to hear a good story that justifies their policies and their prejudices.” Wise words from Patrick Stephenson. Will we listen?
Read his article here:
Privatizing History | Patrick Stephenson.