“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana (Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1)
Earlier today while reading through some blogs I came across this fascinating piece from McClatchy’s blog Inside Iraq. The author of the post discusses in brief how current Iraqi history education at the intermediate and secondary levels now omits the last 30 years of Iraq’s history. Not only is that quite a sizable chunk of history but its a part of that country’s history which is also very significant.
Before I continue, it should be noted that Iraq is far from the only country to omit periods of its own history in the texts books. Indeed countries as notable as Japan, Germany and even the United States have to some extent in their past left out important knowledge surrounding controversial periods in their respective histories. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that part of the educational process in any country is instilling a patriotic sense in the children, that’s perfectly fine. However that should not come at the expense of learning from the mistakes of the past.
The children that occupy today’s classrooms whether in Japan, Iraq or the United States are the potential leaders of tomorrow’s world. Surely if they are not made aware of the mistakes of yesteryear, as the quote notes, they’ll be bound to repeat them. We as a people cannot rely on pop culture to educate the young, what they really need is a guiding hand through both the good AND the bad of our history. Only then will they be able to truly appreciate the difficulties that have been overcome to reach where we are now and perhaps with that education they will be able to avoid future such obstacles. If done properly such an education can still create equally patriotic citizens but citizens better equipped to handle the future.