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Is it important to learn history? - Page 2

post #21 of 170
Learning about history can give you valuable information about the past, present, and future of the place you live and it's government. I totally agree with all of that. We learn about these things in a variety of ways and from a variety of sources. Conversations, movies, music, TV shows, books, art, video/pc games, the internet, and so on.

If you are asking "Do you think history can be a useful, interesting, and valuable subject to learn about?" I would say yes. If you are asking "Should all kids be required to learn history?" I would say no. But then I am not into the required camp much anyway, so that's not a shock really.
post #22 of 170
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Originally Posted by UUMom View Post
Have we had this conversation before? Because I just got the creepiest feeling of deja vu. Really creepy. Not that you're creepy lol...but reading this this. I'm spooked.
i am kinda creepy! lol. well maybe not creepy....but at least a little weird!
post #23 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa View Post
Learning about history can give you valuable information about the past, present, and future of the place you live and it's government. I totally agree with all of that. We learn about these things in a variety of ways and from a variety of sources. Conversations, movies, music, TV shows, books, art, video/pc games, the internet, and so on.
It can also win you a pie sliver in Trivial Pursuit. :
post #24 of 170
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Originally Posted by UUMom View Post
It can also win you a pie sliver in Trivial Pursuit. :
So so true! And those pie pieces come in handy when one wishes to gloat over the husband person.
post #25 of 170
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Originally Posted by elizawill View Post
i am kinda creepy! lol. well maybe not creepy....but at least a little weird!
Seriously, I read your post and I was hit by the deju vu bullet train. I even felt dizzy. I'm a little weird myself. Shocking. I know.
post #26 of 170
i think that most people will end up picking up the bits of history that are important for THEM to learn

i think some bits will be almost universally important in some cultures/regions/groups

for example i bet most of us have some sense of the history of childbirth and parenting practices....

i have a better than average grasp of rock history

you and your kids will end up learninng what YOU need to know
post #27 of 170
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mz_libbie22 View Post
I use history to evaluate current events, to understand what brought us to this point and what needs to be done to get us in a better direction, which in turn helps me decide who I want to support in the '08 election.
So how does knowledge of history help you make a better choice than someone who is ignorant about history? Does a person really need to know any history to form opinions about global warming, gay marriage, abortion, our country's health care system, or whether we should be fighting a war in Iraq?

Some of your other examples - history of parenting or agriculture - seem more like anthropology than history to me, and they're examples of knowledge that does seem useful to me.

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I also totally believe the old saying that if you don't learn from history, you're doomed to repeat it.
I suspect we're doomed to repeat it anyway.

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Originally Posted by Wolfmeis View Post
A knowledge of even the briefest of histories-- such as the origins of organized, compulsory public education in the United States (it's so very recent!)-- helps us in our daily lives to defend our practice of home education.
Can't we assess the effectiveness of our current public education system and compare it to homeschooling without knowing its history? Does its recent origin really tell us whether it's working or not? And isn't that what we really need to know - whether it's working?

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Knowing what has passed, and how that worked for the people who lived it then, is crucial in making the decisions that will effect our tomorrows.
Most of us aren't actually going to be making decisions that affect our tomorrows. I mean, we can vote, and maybe influence a few other voters, but I think you could argue that unless you're a politician or activist, you're not going to need historical knowledge for any important decision making.

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Originally Posted by famousmockngbrd View Post
What else is there, besides history? History is what people have done. People did things, and history occured. How can you learn anything, without learning history?
Wow, talk about not being able to relate! This is so far from the way I think. What else is there besides history?! How about science?

Most of the answers I'm seeing so far are pretty vague. If history is so super important, can't you all come up with some more specific examples of just HOW it's important?

And what kind of understanding of history are you all talking about? Something beyond the general knowledge most people pick up without trying? Is it important to understand the causes of World War I? To know when the Spanish-American War took place, and what it was about? To know when and where guns were invented? What are some examples of important vs. unimportant kinds of history knowledge?
post #28 of 170
I vote yes!

At least to have enough to see that it's interesting and valuable. That way we can read more when we find somethign interesting. And you can't really understand government or politics or even other cultures or languages without learning some history.

History puts what we know into context.
post #29 of 170
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Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
Wow, talk about not being able to relate! This is so far from the way I think. What else is there besides history?! How about science?
Well of course there are other subjects and areas to life. I think what she meant was that all things have a history. The field of science has it's own history, math has history, cooking has a history (which also can involve math and science! ) ...

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Most of the answers I'm seeing so far are pretty vague. If history is so super important, can't you all come up with some more specific examples of just HOW it's important?

And what kind of understanding of history are you all talking about? Something beyond the general knowledge most people pick up without trying? Is it important to understand the causes of World War I? To know when the Spanish-American War took place, and what it was about? To know when and where guns were invented? What are some examples of important vs. unimportant kinds of history knowledge?
I think the answers are vague because what people need isn't the same across the board. Which was my point in my post, actually. I don't need to understand the causes of the Spanish- American War right now. I also don't care about it. If I wanted or need the information for some reason I would just find it. The examples of important vs unimportant kinds of history knowledge would vary depending on who you are asking. (Well, you are asking us but ...lol) The answer would likely even be different coming from the same person if you waited long enough. What's important or useful to me today may not be 6 months from now.
post #30 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
We were talking on this thread about whether everyone needs to know history. I say no. What do you think?

Wait, let me qualify that question a bit. Almost everyone picks up a general familiarity with a lot of major historical events from conversation, books, movies, etc. Is that enough, or is it important to study the subject more systematically or in greater depth?

Can anyone think of a specific situation where you used your knowledge of history? I mean, beyond solving a crossword puzzle or understanding a historical reference in a novel. Has it ever helped you make a decision or accomplish some goal?
Well, for one thing, some reasonable knowledge of history would prevent many people from appearing to be completely ignorant fools, starting with our President.

I'm sure no one would be entirely surprised to realize that lots of people out there have no clue that Iraq and Iran are two very different cultures and can't be treated the same way. Let's start there. Same with Israel and Palestine. Anyone who's going to have a reasonably informed opinion about the problems of those two states needs to have at least a Wikipedia-level knowledge of the back story.

Not knowing history and then choosing to voice an ill-informed opinion about something one has basically no real knowledge of is essentially just annoying and childish, kind've like those people who come into a television show or movie halfway through and think they know what's going on without understanding that there's, well, a history there that colors and informs people's actions.

Our being ignorant of our own history has basically allowed the United States to continue to commit or support various vicious atrocities that we, as a nation, conveniently "forget" about -- such as partnering up with Saddam once upon a time. Other nations don't forget, though. They don't forget, and then when they strike back (as pissed-off people will tend to do once in a while), a lot of us sit around, scratch our heads, and say, "Why do they hate us? Oh, they must envy our lifestyle! They wish they were us!"

No, not really.

Here's another reason: Don't end up like this chick.
post #31 of 170
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa View Post
If you are asking "Do you think history can be a useful, interesting, and valuable subject to learn about?" I would say yes. If you are asking "Should all kids be required to learn history?" I would say no.
I'm not asking either of those things, exactly. I totally agree that history can be useful, interesting, and valuable. So can woodworking. But I don't care if there are lots of people, including my own kids, who never get very interested in woodworking or learn much about it. That seems fine to me. I guess what I'm asking is: Should we feel the same way about people who never learn much history, or is history much more useful and valuable than woodworking?

Of course, "Should all kids be required to learn history?" is a related question, but the answer depends not only on how important you think history is, but on how effective you think it would be to try to require everyone to learn it.
post #32 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by famousmockngbrd View Post
What else is there, besides history? History is what people have done. People did things, and history occured. How can you learn anything, without learning history?

Now, if by history you mean rote memorization of facts, then no I don't think people should learn that. I doubt anyone thinks they should. But it's so important to know what happened here before we arrived. We are a tiny blip on the timeline. We need a context.
Man, I wish I'd said that!
post #33 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
So how does knowledge of history help you make a better choice than someone who is ignorant about history? Does a person really need to know any history to form opinions about global warming, gay marriage, abortion, our country's health care system, or whether we should be fighting a war in Iraq?
Yes.

1. Global warming
Understanding that the earth has periodically gone through cycles of heating and cooling -- and that, historically speaking, we're overdue for a cooling cycle -- would certainly give shape to a well-informed opinion about global warming.

2. Gay marriage
Knowledge of how other societies have handled homosexuality -- let's talk about Sparta, which was basically homosexual except to make other little soldiers for the Spartan state -- can help counter ignorant ideas like, "Gay marriage will destroy society!"

3. Abortion
Knowing what happened to women when abortion was illegal can provide you with some of the best defenses for why it should remain legal -- and it'll make you look less confused when you see pro-choice activists waving coat hangers.

Should I go on?
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Some of your other examples - history of parenting or agriculture - seem more like anthropology than history to me, and they're examples of knowledge that does seem useful to me.
There's considerable overlap between anthropology and history. Anthropology is just really, really OLD history.
post #34 of 170
Ooh, just read more and have to post again.

If for example I 'know' that midwives have been undervalued and resticted in practice in the 'modern era', but I don't know why; I would need to study history, specifically the history of medicine. I need to know why if I want to express my beleifs about midwives' roles in birth and the importance of non interventive maternity care.

If I want to lobby for an ammendment to the constitution, or choose a candidate who will lobby for me, I need to learn the history of the constitution and each political party.

If I want to study human behavior or psychology, I need to study history because history is a record of how humans have behaved as a group over time.


And people DON't 'pick uphistory without really trying'. What info they have is largely unconected and out of context. This is how we make bad choices in elections, get involved or fail to get involved in our world. I think 'history ' itself has proven just how dangerous it is to have a little bit of information and not get the larger picture.
post #35 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidirk View Post

And people DON't 'pick uphistory without really trying'. What info they have is largely unconected and out of context. This is how we make bad choices in elections, get involved or fail to get involved in our world. I think 'history ' itself has proven just how dangerous it is to have a little bit of information and not get the larger picture.
Yes -- because like any "story," there's a temporal sequence to it. Causes precede effects. The way it's taught in public school -- as disconnected, achronological "units" -- is like learning to read a novel by starting at a random chapter and moving to another random chapter. I could not agree more with what you said.
post #36 of 170
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meg Murry. View Post
Yes.

1. Global warming
Understanding that the earth has periodically gone through cycles of heating and cooling -- and that, historically speaking, we're overdue for a cooling cycle -- would certainly give shape to a well-informed opinion about global warming.

2. Gay marriage
Knowledge of how other societies have handled homosexuality -- let's talk about Sparta, which was basically homosexual except to make other little soldiers for the Spartan state -- can help counter ignorant ideas like, "Gay marriage will destroy society!"

3. Abortion
Knowing what happened to women when abortion was illegal can provide you with some of the best defenses for why it should remain legal -- and it'll make you look less confused when you see pro-choice activists waving coat hangers.
I don't think your first example counts. When people talk about "history" (as a subject, as taught in schools) they usually mean "human history" and that's what I'm talking about in this thread.

But the other two examples are good ones. I have to say you're right, that kind of knowledge could be useful.
post #37 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
I'm not asking either of those things, exactly. I totally agree that history can be useful, interesting, and valuable. So can woodworking.
post #38 of 170
"I'm not asking either of those things, exactly. I totally agree that history can be useful, interesting, and valuable. So can woodworking. But I don't care if there are lots of people, including my own kids, who never get very interested in woodworking or learn much about it. That seems fine to me. I guess what I'm asking is: Should we fe"el the same way about people who never learn much history, or is history much more useful and valuable than woodworking?"

Could your kids have a coherent discussion about race in America today, without an understanding of the history of African Americans in the US? Could they understand the underpinnings of the current brouhaha between Obama and Hilary on race? Could your kids use their understanding of the importance (or unimportance) of separation of church and state in America when evaluating whether or not to vote for someone like Huckabee or Bush? Could they form an opinion about whether or not Iraq is like Vietnam, and use that information to inform whether they want to vote for a representative that is pro or anti continuing to pursue that war?

The answer is no without a basic working knowledge of history.

Woodworking does not help create an informed citizenry, a citizenry who are responsible for selecting representatives whose decisions can mean literally life and death for large numbers of people. History does.
post #39 of 170
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidirk View Post
If for example I 'know' that midwives have been undervalued and resticted in practice in the 'modern era', but I don't know why; I would need to study history, specifically the history of medicine. I need to know why if I want to express my beleifs about midwives' roles in birth and the importance of non interventive maternity care.
It seems to me that when people are making decisions about the role midwives should play, they should be looking at data about outcomes of births with and without midwives more than at the history of midwives.

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And people DON't 'pick uphistory without really trying'. What info they have is largely unconected and out of context.
Well, everyone picks up SOME history. Even I know some. One thing I'm trying to figure out is whether the people who think it's so important are talking about basic stuff like knowing that the United States didn't exist 1000 years ago, and Israel didn't exist 100 years ago - which is the kind of stuff you CAN just pick up without trying - or about a much deeper level of knowledge, like understanding the causes of World War I.
post #40 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by bczmama View Post
"I'm not asking either of those things, exactly. I totally agree that history can be useful, interesting, and valuable. So can woodworking. But I don't care if there are lots of people, including my own kids, who never get very interested in woodworking or learn much about it. That seems fine to me. I guess what I'm asking is: Should we fe"el the same way about people who never learn much history, or is history much more useful and valuable than woodworking?"

Could your kids have a coherent discussion about race in America today, without an understanding of the history of African Americans in the US? Could they understand the underpinnings of the current brouhaha between Obama and Hilary on race? Could your kids use their understanding of the importance (or unimportance) of separation of church and state in America when evaluating whether or not to vote for someone like Huckabee or Bush? Could they form an opinion about whether or not Iraq is like Vietnam, and use that information to inform whether they want to vote for a representative that is pro or anti continuing to pursue that war?

The answer is no without a basic working knowledge of history.

Woodworking does not help create an informed citizenry, a citizenry who are responsible for selecting representatives whose decisions can mean literally life and death for large numbers of people. History does.
THANK YOU!

To suggest that history is unimportant is to say that people are unimportant, because history is the sum of all of our family stories. We are all shaped by our history, and we can't hope to understand each other if we choose to remain ignorant of what has happened in the past.

ZM
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