For my good friend Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch was always a dream place to work and after university he became a financial advisor for them. His heart however was in studying history at the university of Miami and unfortunately he realized quite quickly that there really wasn’t a great amount of careers for a history expert, and teaching was never really his thing. In light of the recent debates about whether or not we should teach history, or rather whether or not it is relevant to students, inspired me to have a chat with Patrick to get his take on it, and here is why he believes that it is still important for young men and women to learn about.
To understand who we are as people we must look back through the ages to see where we come from. A black man living in the USA must understand the journey which they have been through to understand where they are today, a Native American also must understand their cultural identity through learning about the past and the same goes for every white, Hispanic and Asian person. History teaches who we are now and that is very important.
Learning about history can greatly help us to stop making similar mistakes to those that we have made in the past. It can be quite frustrating to see the world making similar mistakes again but whilst this does happen, it is more likely that history prevents us from committing the same errors as before. Take the financial crisis of 2008 for example, we now know that this came about as a result of the mortgage industry and the shady way in which they were packaged and sold. We have now dissected what caused that financial crisis and have taken steps to prevent it from happening again, the same can be said about the World Wars.
The way in which we can make sense of the present is to look into the past and the events which have shaped the world in which we live. Take the Israel-Palestine conflict for instance, a damaging and very sad conflict which has been going on now for decades. To understand and make sense of why this exists, we can look to the past and see how it all came about.
Opinions are formed based on what we now know and what we can learn from history and the two things together are required to make an informed choice. We can better understand the actions of people when we know what their story is and the same goes for cultures, races, countries and of course other individuals. History is vital in helping us to formulate educated opinions.
We may think that history is no longer relevant because it is in the past, but if we believe that then we will end up misunderstanding our present, and potentially sabotaging our future.