It’s been a great week so far with our Century of Progress summer session. We’re deep into Tim Bailey and Dr. Stephen Aron today. Yesterday, Dr. Matthew Booker finished up his time with an incredibly interesting discussion of the impact of the bison on the American West.
But before he left, Dr. Booker shared his vision of history and history teachers. It’s a view that I’ve not heard articulated quite this way before and so I’m paraphrasing it here:
History is the most important thing we can study. It is the most important thing my students will study. History speaks directly to the central problems and solutions of human existence. It teaches us that we are not the center of the universe. It humbles us.
It also affirms our existence. Nothing in our lives tells us that we matter more than the fact that we are connected to this web of human relationships.
History places us in a community of human beings which is vast and ancient and will continue into the future. History makes us aware that we are never alone. You are never alone if you think about the past. We are merely the latest in a long line of human beings who will continue into the future. And no other habit of mind has that power to make us feel connected. We feel that sense of connection when we look backward.
History both humbles us and affirms us.
What a great way to look at both history and our responsibilities for teaching it.