Rep. La Shawn Ford of Chicago claims that Western history subjects the citizens of Illinois to “miseducation.” He demands that history classes be abolished. He quoted Meleika Gardner of the organization “We Will”:
“It is urgent that [the miseducation of our children] comes to an end as we witness our current climate become more hostile. Miseducation has fed and continues to feed systemic racism for generations.”
Miseducation is at the heart of our current hostile environment. The attempt to revise or abolish our nation’s history is the problem.
Thomas Jefferson makes this point in his Notes on the State of Virginia in 1784. Jefferson encouraged educating “the poor as [well as] the rich” for the well-being of the nation. Education is necessary to maintain a generation of thinkers, who will keep the population safe by being “the ultimate … guardians of their own liberty.”
Jefferson believed Western history is one of the most important subjects we can teach. He lists three reasons for this.
Western History Imparts Good Judgment
The study of history imparts knowledge of the past to current generations. Yet, revisionists claimed that Western history is the realm of old white men who have no sensitivity toward race, class, or gender. Such an excuse has no place in Jefferson’s reason for teaching history. As he sees it, a strong knowledge of the past imparts good judgment for the future. Those who understand the past can recognize when those patterns appear in the present. In doing so, they can offer wise advice and choose paths other than those trod by their forebears.
Western History Acknowledges Diversity
History, Jefferson claims, “will avail [students] of the experience of other times and other nations.” In other words, history promotes knowledge of diverse customs and cultures. In a world that idolizes diversity, how can we argue with that? When we eliminate or revise history, do we not diminish diversity?
Western History Defeats Flawed Thinking
Our founding fathers understood that human nature is flawed. Therefore, they devised a system of checks and balances to thwart the human nature of our leaders in check. Good knowledge of history is one way to do this. Jefferson noted, history “will enable [students] to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.”
Jefferson goes on to say:
“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree. This indeed is not all that is necessary, though it is essentially necessary.”
Only 12 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in U.S. history. Perhaps this explains why so many are unable to recognize flawed ideologies infiltrating our society. Also, they do not seem able to exercise sound judgment about current events. Suppose they don’t know the consequences of previous historical events. So how can we expect them to do anything except run with the crowd? And if their minds cannot understand these things, how can they elect or lead a government that is anything but degenerate?
Via Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout. This article was originally published on Intellectual Takeout.