Why is it neccessary and helpful to study the context of prior history

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January 8, 2014
Week One Assignment
Professor Gary Fuchs

Week One Assignment
There is not a single person who can say they have not learned from their mistakes or past experiences. When a child touches a hot stove and burns their hand, they quickly learn not to do it again and have a memory of experience that will help them make better choices in the future. This is probably why it is said “we get wiser as we get older”. The same concept can be applied to studying history. By taking others experiences and analyzing the outcome, one could save themselves from making a mistake or causing embarrassment. The importance of studying and understanding history but also learning from it is pertinent to hopefully making more informed decision in the present and the future. It has been said many times that history is studied so that mistakes are not repeated from the past, although this can be true it is also too simple. If so much knowledge of the past has been collected and learned over the centuries, then things like war, poverty, injustice and immorality should not exist. It is also too simple to say the past can predict the future, although it is a nice idea, history can only help guide our future. Alternatively, a well-rounded understanding of history can uncover all that is the present. “History requires us to think outside of our own experiences in time and place, and thus fosters empathetic thinking, greater appreciation of diversity, and understanding of the relationship between context and judgment” (The National History Center, 2013). Understanding history most importantly offers a different, possibly better, perspective on the present situations and one’s ability to break down these situations and make informed choices. History can be thought of as something set in stone and never changing; but history, like memories is actually forever changing. Although the dates and statistics may not change, how they are interpreted...
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