History and Values: Homework Paper Week 1 Michele Kendall Devry University HUM 415: Vietnam and the 20th Century Experience Introduction Many people don’t care about learning history in today’s society. Arguments regarding whether to offer certain history classes are always being debated. Some believe that it’s a waste of time learning about all the wars and tragedies as they move forward into a world of technology. Many will tell you that the past belongs there, in the past. Then why is it a mandatory class for college students?
Why is it both necessary and helpful to study the context of prior history, in order to understand what is valued by these participants? And what resources will be most helpful to you as a student of history? Research shows that there are several ways to answer these questions. This paper will reflect another view and explain the reason behind the answers. Summary (Why it is both necessary and helpful to study the context of prior history) Understanding what history means is very useful in explaining why it is important to study and learn from it.
History is “a chronological record of significant events (as affecting a nation or institution) often including an explanation of their causes; events that form the subject matter of a history or events of the past” (Miriam-Webster, 2011). For this paper, history is events of the past as recalled during the Vietnam War. Memory plays an important role in how history is translated and interpreted. What one remembers from growing up and becoming an adult is what shapes them into who they become. History is a lot like that when one considers where they live and the freedoms they have.
Listening to grandparents talk about war periods, recession, automobiles, television, radio shows, etc. , allows one to imagine a time when they weren’t around. One can relate easily to those whom they love and respect. History is like a story that is told in a political and educational manner. It is necessary to study the context of prior history because “the changing of historical understanding is the very best introduction we can have to the practical problems of real life”, (McNeill, 1985).
According to McNeill, carefully reflecting and searching for “enduring patterns and critical turning points in the past” is what every person needs to know. This belief comes from knowing where one’s heritage and nation comes from. It allows us to know where we’ve been and how we got to nationalism. It justifies our behavior and those of others. In times of war, the participants should learn about one another so that they can know everything about their enemy; such as culture, geography, finances, technology, foods, family values, religious beliefs, political standing, friends and foes, strengths and weaknesses, etc.
Learning how the past shaped a country and the leaders that had a part in it, helps to plan strategically, and maneuver around the people and land. It gives insight that mistakes made in the past won’t be repeated and lessons will be learned from those mistakes. By learning about other participants, respect is shown and a foundation for better communication can be built upon. (Most helpful resources for students) The most beneficial resources to students learning about history are primary, secondary and tertiary sources.
Primary sources pertain to those directly involved in a situation. Unfortunately, when studying history of the past, many of these sources are no longer alive, but there are videos and newspapers that recount those times that are accessible. Books are also another form of primary sources, but the information may be a reflection of the writer and not the actual events as they occurred. Secondary sources can be utilized when gathering information and data through research and presenting it in an orderly manner.
This collection of data can be obtained through primary sources and expanded upon through other channels. Books used in schools and college courses are an example of this source. The tertiary source would be the more modern and up-to-date resources such as computers, encyclopedias, reports, articles, journals and magazines. These sources may not be as reliable as the other sources because of the distance from the primary source. They are considered to be reports-about-reports and are open to doubt. (Devry, 2011).
Conclusion History is being created every day and many don’t even know it…. but the past is where the roots of every country lay. It defines us as a whole and as individuals. Who we are, how we got to this point, and where we are going, is based on our history. Not only does it pertain to our country, but to others as well. If we can learn from our past mistakes, then surely we can learn from others. Learning about the way others think and their cultures and values, helps us to understand the past and why things happened.