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Maddie Orr; blog post 8/24

Throughout “Why History Matters” Cornfield discusses the importance of history in terms of understanding the true human experience and condition. History connects events, people, beliefs, and experiences to the present and students can create a larger, more critical view of things that happen today. When discussing why history is so important to study Cornfield says, “to study the subject for the invaluable in-depth analysis and the long-term perspective it confers upon the entire human experience”. Education allows people to gain knowledge about the world they live in and teaches how to build upon that for the future. Cornfield also brought up an interesting point that the human mind can do more and experience more than the physical human body. This shows the importance of education and history specifically where our minds are able to travel back in time to periods of evolution and to see change throughout the past. 

Last semester, I took a history class called Nazi Germany and a constant theme throughout the course was the importance of teaching difficult and horrific moments of the past to ensure that history does not repeat itself. Humans learn from the past and see different outcomes to behaviors. When encountered with similar behaviors or experiences humans adapt their responses based on their knowledge of the past. Cornfield’s article brought up many similar arguments showing the importance of teaching history in order to give people a strong and knowledgeable foundation to create change for the future. This can be done through a good educational system and compelling teachers who provide students a “vital collective resource” that teaches about the past and also promotes growth for the future. 

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  1. Christopher Wilson Christopher Wilson

    I agree with Maddie’s observation that it is imperative to educate people about the past and how the past still influences present-day society. I found her experience of taking the Nazi Germany class interesting because Maddie learned why it is important to study all variations of history- good and bad- so that the future does not repeat itself. In fact, I believe that studying all good and dark moments of history is why Corfield (2008) insists that educators and other teachers of history, such as parents and grandparents, continue the work that they already do, but in a more engaging way. As a result, society can then plan for the future based on their awareness of how humans have behaved and responded to certain events in the past. Also, people will have something to root themselves in. After all, learning about the wicked events in history collectively roots a generation to actively abolish the relics and remains of those evils that prevailed during that time in the past. For instance, more black people are speaking up and out about the ills of police brutality while creating the change they want to see in their industries of expertise.

  2. Sophia Peltzer Sophia Peltzer

    I also took specific note of Corfield’s observation that our minds can travel far beyond our physical bodies. I think this is so important to emphasize because by putting our minds places our bodies cannot be, that is how we understand and empathize with people who live different lives and have different experiences than us. It allows us to see and understand the perspectives of others without actually having to live their lives. I believe that this understanding and empathy of people who are different than us is the foundation and backbone of effective and empathetic public policy and leadership, and I do not think this point can be stressed enough in the study of leadership.

  3. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    I appreciate your reference to history as a “vital collective resource.” One section of the reading that caught my attention was Corfield’s reference to what would replace history if it were eliminated as a core class in high school. Corfield feared that if history were removed from school curriculums, then the void would be replaced by memories, myths, rumours, family, friends, and other less reliable resources.

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