When I was in high school I didn’t think history was very interesting. I didn’t like my history classes. I wish I had.
Today, I realize the importance of studying history. It enables us to better understand the world we live in. Learning about historical events gives us an understanding of and appreciation for what’s going on today.
“Why on earth does it matter what happened long ago,” questioned Penelope J. Corfield, author and professor of history at Royal Holloway, London University.
“The answer is that History is inescapable. It studies the past and the legacies of the past in the present. Far from being a ‘dead’ subject, it connects things through time and encourages its students to take a long view of such connections. All people and peoples are living histories.”
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said George Santayana, philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist who felt that everyone should study history because the past is full of warning signs.
According to Santayana we should be able to reflect on events that built up to them, learn from the mistakes that were made, resist and question if we see similar patterns.
An example of this theory is the Nuremberg Laws enacted in Nazi Germany in 1935 that were anti-Semitic and racist. They had a crippling social and economic impact on the Jewish community. Jews were not allowed to marry Germans. Non-Jews eventually stopped socializing with Jews. Jews couldn’t maintain their businesses because non-Jews wouldn’t shop in Jewish owned stores.
Many Jews were forced to take menial jobs and were heavily taxed. The end result was that Jews were sent to concentration camps or worse. In addition, during a state of emergency legislative power was granted to Hitler so his government could create laws without approval of the national legislature, thus placing Hitler above the law.
Scary? You bet! If you haven’t read The Diary of Anne Frank, it should be on your reading list.
Lynn Rogers, assistant librarian at the Allen F. Pierce Free Library in Troy has always been a reader who loves history.
“History is life. You have to be faithful to the climate in which people of the past lived,” said Rogers. “Really research their vision. Learn what they had to sacrifice to follow that vision. I’m thinking about our country.”
Rogers feels that so many people don’t know about the history of our country, specifically what our holidays stand for.
“How do we understand the basic skeleton of our government if we don’t take Civics in school and learn how our government operates,” added Rogers.
Rogers was a teacher in New Jersey before she came to work at the library. She taught different grade levels and combined history with music. Her students said the Pledge of Allegiance and kept on going by singing parts of the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. They sang the presidents in order.
“It worked,” said Rogers. “You put it to music. It’s easy. You are using the left side of the brain. Music, rhythms and movement are great for memorizing.”
“I told the parents we learn the presidents in order because it’s a natural American history timeline,” explained Rogers.
According to Rogers, reading through the lives of our American presidents also shows the historic events that occurred during their lives and times in office, creating that overlapping history. One president taking over when the last one’s office ended show the overlap in how problems and events were handled.
Rogers thinks the Rush Revere historical fiction novels written by Rush Limbaugh are wonderful for learning about the history of our country. He wrote this adventure series for children to make learning about American history fun. Limbaugh’s main character, Rush Revere, and his horse Liberty time-travel back in time to different periods in our country’s growth starting with the Pilgrims.
“Rush Limbaugh loves people, he loves his country and he loves truth,” said Rogers. “He gives historic information to back up his stories.”
According to Rogers, traditional historic information is out there and that’s what Limbaugh used.
In the Forward of Rush Revere and the First Patriots, Limbaugh writes, “It is my fervent hope that in learning the history of our country you will be inspired to learn about the people, traditions, and institutions that make this a great country so that you will someday make your own contributions to these ideals.”
Joshua Shaw recently graduated from high school in Connecticut. He remembers that one of his history teachers in middle school had his students perform a history play about 1776. Then they re-enacted the Battle of Bunker Hill.
“The play made the history class more interesting,” said Shaw.
When history is taught in a fun, hands-on way, it can be interesting.
This is National Education Week. Just out of curiosity, I looked up my high school’s website to see what kind of history courses they are offering there today. Much to my surprise the list was quite extensive and interesting, and included Global Civilization, U. S. History, Economics, Political Systems, U.S. Government, World Religions, and Justice and Law.
It made me want to jump on Liberty’s back with Rush Revere and travel back to 1965 to my high school to start learning history all over again!