Submitted by Robert Strodtbeck, Social Studies Teacher At Learner Middle & High School
The great thing about studying history at this time is that, due to the easy access that the Internet allows to documents and references, we can gain access to the complete historical record of the world with a few keystrokes. We only need to develop our focus and purpose so that our keystrokes have meaning.
Since the access to original documents is so much more convenient than in the past, people who have taken the time to review these documents and apply them to the times in which they were written are coming up with reasonable perspectives for the motivations behind decisions that were made that have had a significant effect on the modern world. These perspectives often challenge what has been, heretofore, accepted portrayals of well-known events from the past.
What happened in the past cannot be changed,
but our knowledge and understanding of it can be.
These new challenges to the popular perceptions of history are called revisionist history. According to Anthony Gregory, a research analyst at the Independent Institute, “Historical revisionism often gets a bad rap. The term is typically used derisively to attack historical accounts that are unconventional, usually with the implication that they are false. But that is a grave misunderstanding of revisionism and the study of history in general.” Gregory went on to detail how revisionism is a responsibility for those who take the study of history as an important step to understanding who we are and where we are going in his review of revisionism in Liberty and Revisionism, from a November 4, 2010, posting in the Freedom Daily.
Revisionism was advocated by no less than St. Augustine in his book, On Christian Doctrine. Augustine's work was devoted to teaching his students that their understanding, application, and teaching of Scripture could only be done responsibly through studying the culture, settings, and languages in which Biblical events took place. He further taught that in the process of their investigations, that if they discovered thoughts that challenged popular perspectives of Biblical records, they had a duty to correct those popular perceptions. According to Gregory, this is revisionism.
To be sure, taking a revisionist view of the events from the past is no small effort. Just as St. Augustine demanded hard study and research before any views be taken, the same is true now. The Internet is filled with countless sources that challenge popular perceptions of historical events, but not all of those sources are credible. Before a source is considered it is wise to investigate the information on which the perspective based. If the source shows the signs of reliability, such as referenced and documented support, then it is worthy of entering into a debate regarding the influences upon history.
In the setting of our classroom, which is the entire world, we have the chance of taking the perspectives of not only well-documented sources from the Internet, but from classmates from around the country and even around the world. The fact of the matter is that in our class, revisionism does not have to be an anomaly, it can be the rule to feed our interest in a subject which can do much to shape our understanding of the future.
You can take history courses online at Learner Middle & High School. For more information, call 866-502-1050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by Robert Strodtbeck, Learner High School Social Studies Teacher
Gary North is an economist and prolific writer who has been pointing out that the low cost of sending information through the Internet is changing how people get their information and causing momentous shifts in the influence of the news media. Newspapers are becoming obsolete and are being replaced by such Internet staples as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. On the morning of the last lift off of the space shuttle Endeavor, I watched an Orlando news program during which the news anchor actually quit reading the news script provided by the station writers and began reading the Twitter feeds of the astronauts on their cell phones.
This same digital technology that allows us to get information around a corporate news filter also allows us to get the documents that formed history for our own study. We can conveniently augment our understanding of a textbook reference of the Articles of the Confederation with finding an easily readable copy with commentaries within seconds on our laptop or even smart phone. We no longer are limited to those who disagreed with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution being simply labeled, “Anti-Federalists”; we can find their reasons and principles word for word as they wrote them just by typing “Anti-Federalists commentaries” into a search engine.
This easy access of information leads me to believe that the best part of a history class is having the curiosity to investigate the information given in the text. This curiosity is based upon questions of the world around you and how we got to where we are. Those basic questions are at the heart of research and, raised individually, become the basis of learning. This is the great adventure you have a chance to experience when taking in this new form of study called online schooling.