Whose history are we really talking about?

Hands on earth colorful peace avatarWhose history are we really talking about is a great question to focus on as it raises where we came from, our history, and everyone else's. We have learned from different teachers. The history many of us grew up with involved powerful kings, queens, wars, governments, and the development of parliamentary democracy with some historical and romantic novels. But for the British when England leaves the Catholic Church in 1534 major changes occurred after Henry the VIII that changed how we approach the subject.

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By the time we hit university things were already changing. Marxism had arrived bringing a heightened attention to the arc of class and economics. Many works like them have helped to revolutionize our view of the past, but surely began filling up with depth from new historical knowledge.

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Another force connected with women involved half the population followed by equally powerful questions about race and racism. The idea of history as a procession of dead white males written by live ones may sound ridiculous now, but the war to open up a wider perspective was a real one. So writers of history began demonstrating different point of emphasis and views. Soon the teaching of science and engineering became increasingly important.

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All exposes the current assault on the humanities within higher education as even more uncultured. The thinking goes like this: the study of history, English, philosophy or art doesn't help anyone get a job and does not contribute to the economy to the same degree that science or engineering or business studies do. I believe most of us say balderdash.

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The humanities, including history, teach people how to think analytically while at the same time appreciating innovation and creativity. Isn't that a good set of skills for most jobs?

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One could wish that the historians were all more accurate. Who would dare mess with science in the way some fool with history.

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Toni Morrison brought to life the inner life of slavery, and pushed the modern reader to confront this reality. Another confronted the same difficult history from a white woman's perspective. One memoir produces anti-war feelings from gross misuse of power. Another accuses those who cringe at the horrors of Hiroshima as "hand wringers". Any society that doesn't pay proper attention to whose history we are exploring, and from what perspective, maybe starving his/her own imagination and missing an opportunity to participate spreading useful historical knowledge so mistakes of the past may be understood and avoided in the future.

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