It is through education that our young people come to know what society cherishes. By means of education, the young will be prepared to take part in the perpetuation and further development of that knowledge and ideals. That was true at the dawn of history and is even more true today. Our survival depends on an awareness of history.
As philosopher George Santayana stated so convincingly, “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Hence, if we are ignorant of history, we will make mistakes over and over again. The general purpose of education, therefore, is to avoid miscalculations and to participate fully in life.
A recent poll in the United States revealed the shocking fact that 40 per cent of the respondents did not know that the United States was part of the British Empire, and that the American Revolution was fought against the British.
So much education in North America skips events and dates. It seems to focus on cultural trends and social changes and how to adapt to them. They are noteworthy, but are not “the nuts and bolts” of history.
If Canadians are not aware of the background and causes of the 1929 business depression, how can steps be taken to prevent a recurrence? Canada has fought in two world wars over the past century. Without some knowledge of those events, how can we forestall something similar from occurring again?
History is a panorama of our path to civilization.
It really is not only a catalogue of names and dates, but rather the true story of how we developed our civilization, the ladder to our present time wars and political struggles are crucial to our understanding of our contemporary life.
In order to vote properly, we must be familiar with the great drama of human civilization. Voltaire, the great 18th century writer, asked if an ant were happier than human beings. He replied that an ant missed what life was all about.
The absence of some knowledge of the past will lead us to accept policies that in the past have caused a great deal of trouble. Our shift from primitive times to the present could not have taken place without a thorough knowledge of the past.
To develop further, history must be recognized as a high-grade resource, a real chronicle of facts and events, not socio-economic cultural mishmash.