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What Can We Learn from History?

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To truly appreciate the value of studying history we must look at the purpose of Christian education. As Christian educators our aim is to teach students to live Christ-like lives and facilitate their ability to have a relationship with God through Christ. To this end, Christian education focuses on holistic teaching; guiding a student toward a better way of living by understanding the world around them and their place in it within Christian context. History reveals the complexity of human affairs and allows us to view society's fallen condition and Christ's redemptive work in the world. By studying history, we understand better the need for Christ-centred lives and culture.

Through the teaching of history students become mature, thoughtful Christian thinkers. As Cicero stated: 'To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?" (Byrd 1995, p.6).

All of history, from the time of creation, is part of the journey toward God's ultimate plan. Life has meaning and purpose. The study of history is especially important to Christians because God commanded that we do not forget the past. 'Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them' (Deuteronomy 4:20 NIV).

Throughout Proverbs we are urged to seek wisdom, understanding, discernment and knowledge and there is no better way than through the study of history. History is an eclectic discipline. It examines the record of human social behavior, drawing on a wide array of other disciplines from psychology, economics, and political science, to art, archaeology, literature, and philosophy. History forms the basis of who we are. It is the shared collective foundation of all humankind and as such links each and every one of us. It is a basic human desire to understand who we are and where we come from, and history expands our knowledge and understanding of society and human nature. It allows us to rethink who we are and not to take ourselves nor each other for granted. History stimulates the imagination and provides inspiration, allowing us to recognize our potential to transform and become closer to God. 'The strangeness of the past offers the possibility of surprise and amazement, of encountering people, places, and times that spur is to reconsider how we see ourselves as human beings' (Wineburg 2001, p.6). History also teaches rigorous analytical thinking and hones crucial research skills, The ability to draw conclusions from a variety of sources; to read not only what is said but what can be inferred, and what is not stated at all is of paramount importance in today's information-overloaded society. History teaches the



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