PWSH Blueprints

The Importance of History

Elizabeth Price, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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“Study the past if you would define the future.” -Confucius

For years, students have complained that history, or social studies in general, is a pointless course that offers no real life application. However, these courses provide valuable insight to the world around us that is necessary to be a productive member of society.

History helps us to preserve and comprehend past and current cultures. Important texts written in forgotten or dying languages can be translated and recovered by historians. These texts are essential, as they could hold information that can impact our lives and perception of the world around us. The Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient religious manuscripts containing about 900 crucial documents, is a prime example of why history is vital. For thousands of years, these texts were lost, but their discovery in the 1940s and 1950s changed the way many viewed their religion. These long lost scripts, according to the Israel Antiquities Society, have revolutionized and shed light on previously misunderstood practices and worldviews of Judaism, that without the pursuit of archaeology and preservation of history, would still be unknown to man.

History will always repeat itself. A phrase uttered by hundreds of history teachers daily, the statement is proved to be true time and time again. According to Making History, an online publication by Institute of Historical Research, the “diachronic is always in the synchronic,” meaning the past will always contribute to the present. This can be seen in many reoccurring scenarios, such as the unfortunate genocides and economic downfalls the world has seen, such as the Armenian Genocide, and soon after, the Holocaust.

According to George Santayana, it is clear that if we do not comprehend the mistakes of the past, we are destined to make the same mistakes.

History helps us to ensure secure political and governmental foundations. Every citizen needs to have a firm grasp on history in order to understand and participate in politics. In order to be a knowledgeable and responsible voter, one must look to the past to fully appreciate the foundation of government, specific issues and policies. We must look back to Colonial America to interpret laws and determine if current policies are acceptable. In the 1963 case Abington School Dist. v. Schempp, the Supreme Court looked to the U.S. Constitution in order to determine if a current law stating that readings of the Bible at the opening of each public school day was constitutional. The court determined that, because of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the law was unconstitutional. Looking to historical texts is vital in the pursuit of justice, let alone politics.

We look to history for inspiration in government. The leaders of the American Revolution studied and adapted policies and viewpoints from different instances and philosophers throughout history. John Locke and enlightenment ideas, for example, provided the basis on which the founding fathers established our great nation. In addition, being an active member of politics is extremely important, if not necessary to being a productive and beneficial citizen. If one expects to become a politician, it should be expected they understand the history of the country of which they belong.

Everything we learn is history. Everything we learn has a historical basis. In any subject one learns, the materials studied is what someone wrote, discovered or did many years ago. Thus, without learning history, everything gained by citizens of the past would be forever lost and we would have no basis upon which to make medical, political, or social advances.

With every history course one takes, word perspective is widened. History is essential in that it creates more understanding, productive members of society, ensures valuable rights are being protected, stabilizes morals, and enables us to learn from the past in order to make a brighter future.

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The School Newspaper of Plano West High School
The Importance of History