“A country without a memory is a country of madmen.” – George Santayana.
If you do not know where you have been then you can have no idea where you are going. History directs the present to what a civilization’s hopes of the future can be. Without a sense of where you have been, it is almost as though you are walking blindfolded through a coal mine looking for a way to the surface.
History is an important part to what gives a nation its identity. When it comes to teaching history in grade school, nothing could be more important in keeping true with the original intention of the American public school system.
When Thomas Jefferson helped to establish the first American public system of education, he did so for one very important reason; so that future generations could inherit the nation and continue its progress as a Democratic nation of freedom and liberty for generations to come.
Without teaching students the history of nations, governments, philosophies, and war, it is hard to expect them to be fully competent and ready to exist within a Democratic Republic.
Every student in America and any other country for that matter should know the history of their nation. Americans specifically, should know the Revolutionary war, founding fathers, and their original image for the nation. They should know civics and how government has evolved, as well as how and why it currently functions as such. They should be shown how a nation can descend into chaos and then be brought back from the brink by men like Lincoln.
They should know about immigration and the many different cultures who have made there way into the American psyche. They should know about the melting pot theory where all the cultures of the world can be blended into one united American nation. They should know about the strength of past generations as well as their courage to reach feats like the Moon.
They need to know about the evolution of their government and even more so they need to know what their individual duty is within a Democratic Republic. All of this information is what makes a nation. It is what binds us to one commonality. If we lose that, we have lost our nation’s sense of self.
There is no reason to delay this important foundation in the education of individuals. It could be taught as early as a teacher has the will to teach it. History can help students understand their place in the ages. It will help them understand the place of their Nation in the past and in the present. It will give them insight into why so many gave so much for an ideal.
When the number one question on the mind of American adolescence is, “why am I here and what am I meant for?” History could help be their guide. Simply put, history should be the driving force to our school system. It should be the foundation to all other things. The lessons of our past are invaluable to the education of our present and of our progression into the future.
Failing to instruct the generations of the present in where this nation has been in its past, how then can the nation ever evolve and learn from the great many mistakes throughout past history? The truth is, it can’t. If you do not know the past then you surely do not know your present and will never understand your direction towards the future.
History teaches you through the mistakes of others not to proceed down certain paths. If you forget all of that, then so much of humanities civilized evolution would be for not. The last period in which history was lost is known as the “Dark Ages”. If you lose all trace of your past the present can only exist in darkness till the present learns past forgotten mistakes and evolves in the method of experience.
Why make things so difficult? Sure the light may not completely extinguish if history is lost, but it will certainly burn much less brightly. In all of this it should never be said that it is too early to teach history.