I heard a homeschooling advocate say in an interview recently that history was more important than math and language. The interviewer's response was the same as mine, which was that it's not one of the three "R's". He went on to make his case but it gave me reason to wonder.
In thinking about this I found that I could make the case that deficiencies in any of these four areas would result in various barriers to a more fulfilled life. I decided that the "R" representing "reading" probably trumped history, because if a person can read he can teach himself the other three. But there is another reason that we have the 3 "R's" and not the 4 R's... which I now think should include "Retrospect". (Hey, if Arithmetic can start with "r" then why not "retrospect" for history?)
Education's primary goal, it might be said, is to provide the opportunity for a more prosperous life. If a person, at the very least, cannot read, write and do math, his prospects of being productive are weak. He brings only his brawn to the marketplace. But while the impact that ignorance of history makes on well-being is of more of a secondary nature, the consequences of such ignorance when it is more wide-spread can actually be more severe than ignorance of just reading, writing and math.
The reality of this is not as readily obvious for if only one person finds no reason or purpose to think outside his own time, society can easily absorb his ignorance into itself and the society, as well as the one, will probably be no worse off.
But when masses of people become ignorant of history the impact changes drastically. A culture that is predominately ignorant of history lives in a time bubble devoid of the stabilizing influences it offers to the present. History provides a culture with a reference point beyond its own time by which it can judge its own direction. If a person knows history he can observe and discern the course of events according to that history. He need not endure the trials and tribulations of his ancestors, or have a faulty view of the nature and proclivities of himself and his fellow man. He is able to judge with clarity those who offer security in exchange for liberty. But without a predominance of that knowledge, a culture becomes lost in time, and consequently, ripe for the oppressor's picking.
The prospects, therefore, of prosperity. that give us reason to apply ourselves to the 3 "R's" can all become nullified by our culture's whole-scale ignorance of history. The Despot's restraints are first loosened by that ignorance, then broken. And while the Despot lures the hapless citizen into deeper captivity with promises of a brighter future, the need and desire for that future grows ever more desperate as the cultural state of being declines.
This is of course why we homeschool our children. The men who lust for power know that the opportunity to achieve that unfettered power lies in the classroom of the masses with the chief focal point being history. They know that they must detach the child from the actual past and provide for him a past that is more conducive to the garnishment from them of power. While our children may not escape the oppression of the tyrant, with a clear understanding of history, they won't have to fall prey to his wiles, and may possibly become a voice of reason in a dark and desperate culture.
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