Sam Cooke, “What A Wonderful World”…
There are those (usually history majors, particularly those with advanced degrees) who say that “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” And yet, history is the story of the same mistakes being made time and time again. Duh.
Now, does that mean we shouldn’t learn about the past? No. I love to learn about the past. I spend a lot of time learning about it. Granted, it’s about TV, radio, music, and baseball, none of which actually qualifies as capital-H History. I do plenty of memoir on this blog, telling stories of my past. We did, and still do, a lot of that in my family. I’m interested in genealogy and where I came from. Things like that.
There was a contestant on Jeopardy! named Colby Burnett, who was a history teacher at Fenwick High School in the Chicago area. He said the way he teaches history is from the back of the book forward. In other words, start with things today, and work your way backward, rather than starting with cavemen and working your way forward. The reason, he said, was because he feels that more current history gets ignored because school’s over before he gets there. It makes sense: start with the world today and figure out what happened in the past that caused it.
But that’s just me.