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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor

Past insight dictates future

The teaching of history and the social sciences are often considered by high school students to be unnecessary and irrelevant. While math, English, and even science classes have redeeming qualities, history supposedly does not relate to their daily lives or futures. However, knowledge of past societies and their decisions is crucial to understanding the current world we live in, despite varying views.

An example may be seen in the Middle East. After more than three centuries of decline, the Ottoman Empire entered the disastrous First World War in 1914. Following its defeat the remaining territories belonging to the ?sick man of Europe? were either taken by the Allies or made independent. Many may argue about the intentions of the Western powers, but none can dispute the effects of their involvement in Muslim lands.

The Balkan nations became a volatile ?powder-keg? once Ottoman rule ended. The Near East also has various ethnic tensions that were heightened after independence was granted and new nations (such as the State of Israel) were formed. It is likely the effects of the Ottoman Empire?s dissolution will continue to reverberate through the decades.

Although it is important to understand the roots of the present, some students will point out that this does little actual good. To improve the world, we must base our policies on knowledge of the past. An example may be found in Niall Ferguson?s analysis of World War I, The Pity of War. The conflict was not inevitable, according to the Scottish historian, but resulted from irrational British fears of German power.

The growing importance of the German Empire was tragically misinterpreted as militaristic expansionism. In short, London?s suspicions clouded communications and led to the largest war then seen in Europe, a conflict that could have been avoided.

The link to twenty-first century policy lies in that possibly avoidable nature of the First World War. What is the ideal point at which a nation attacks another? What should the motivations be for a declaration of war?

Those questions can be debated endlessly by students, as indicated by the controversial status of Ferguson?s thesis. However, one can say that that status can be applied to all ?lessons? of history and renders them meaningless, as the wide variety of interpretations always leads to different connections to the present. Yet history is inherently controversial; it is not simply a mass of data to be memorized.

Moreover, the fact that the past can be seen from so many angles could perhaps be the most important reason for students to take it seriously. Open debate about history may lead to a realization of common ground, allowing us to move forward.

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  • L

    Logan RoodMar 12, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Walking into the classroom with smiling faces after their metting was over wanted me to join. I also really love Asian food. One of my best friends, Kristen Rosenthal, just recently had me try some real Japanese food; it is nothing like what they serve here. I think I will come to the next meeting.

  • M

    Maddie YeeMar 12, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Like I said in my quote to this picture, the Asian Club meeting today was a lot of fun. The little goody bags we got were really nice too. I used to eat Pocky all the time when I was little. I had never tried the Calpico before, so it was fun getting to try it.

    Although it says that I chugged the whole thing, in reality, I did not. We were all out of cups, and since that bottle was empty, I decided to use it as my cup….