Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why Study History?

"Why do we need to study history?" Inquiring minds want to know. I have been giving this a lot of thought lately. I was talking to one of my Amish friend's daughter, Rachel, recently. She is 12 and I asked her what she knew about history. She said that she hadn't studied it yet in school. They don't get any history in school until 7th and 8th grade. They do study some American history and some world geography then. I was surprised. Her mother commented that they had an 'old wives' tale' that if the children study too much history they are more likely to leave the Amish. I asked another Amish friend about it, who is a more progressive type of Amish -she was even homeschooled, and she disagreed with that statement. She did know that those who studied their Bibles frequently left the Amish. An interesting insight from a born again Amish woman.
So what role does or should the study of History play in our everyday lives?

While these ideas were fomenting around in my brain, I started reading a blog post over at regarding the book 'Norms and Nobility' by David Hicks. I actually had the book on my shelf. It was given to us by our friend Andy Kern. The best part of Cindy's blog posts (at the above blog) are the discussion in the comments. Mr. Hicks writes about what is true 'Classical Education'. It is a very meaty book and definitely not a lite read. However, I am finding it worthwhile to work through with the help and encouragement of Cindy. The basic subtitle of the discussion would be 'Classical Education, and how Charlotte Mason got it right'. I have always felt that an education following Charlotte Mason's principles resulted in a classical education. As our school has grown and the teacher matured over the years, I have adopted more and more of Charlotte's ideas in our schooling. I still have a ways to go though. It is a process, not an event. Fortunately, although I have graduated one student, I still have five others, including one in kindergarten to keep working through these things with.
Education helps us to see ourselves.

David Hicks defines classical education as 'the cultivation of the human spirit to teach the young to know the good, to serve it above self, to reproduce it, and to recognize that in knowledge lies this responsibility.' Classical Education is not just Latin and Greek pasted on to a contemporary education. Hicks identifies a classical education as being an education that is created to bring out the best in man, the hero that serves the greater good above self. Our education today is utilitarian. Know these facts and be able to pass this test so you can get a job. There is very little interaction with ideas, and no screen of morals/scripture to run them through to see if our assessment is correct. Very few people today know scripture well enough to judge whether an idea or activity is righteous, if it would glorify God. We are so confused because of this and get caught up in many things and ideas we should not. We don't have the logic skills to even work through a problem to see what is really at stake. We have lost our moral framework and no longer have the belief that we do what is right, no matter what the cost and instead we worry about how it will make us or somebody else feel. 'There is nothing new under the sun' according to Solomon in Ecclesiastes. If we had a knowledge and understanding of history we would be able to identify the fallacies presented to us and reject them, because we have learned of them before and know how they work out.

I would like to 'borrow' a quote from one of the commenters at the Dominion Family blog. It is taken from a speech by David McCullough on history. He said, "The late Daniel Boorstin, who was a very good historian and librarian of Congress, said that 'trying to plan for the future without a sense of the past is like trying to plant cut flowers. We're raising a lot of cut flowers and trying to plant them.' "
As parents and home educators we need to not just raise/train functional adults, but to think through what is required to raise up straight arrows for the Lord's service. Children that understand that their primary purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Who know the past and see what may be required of them in their generation. Ones who realize that living a long life is not the ultimate goal. People who in the midst of this confused generation, know the truth and do the right.
Other blogs you might find interesting on the same topic...
PS In my experience, the Amish no longer teach the history and biblical foundation of their Anabaptist heritage. It has been lost to what is now merely a cultural exercise in legalism. The highest importance is to not do anything different from their Amish neighbors, or break some 'church' rule. It is true that the ones who read the Bible and discover a real biblical faith do end up leaving. In failing to teach the Bible and history they have lost their roots and major so much on the minors that they have little left, other than nice families.
It is all about external appearances.

No comments:

Post a Comment