The study of history…

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From S.E. of M.K.:

The teaching of universal history in what are called the higher grade schools is still very unsatisfactory.

Few teachers realise that the purpose of teaching history is not the memorizing of some dates and facts, that it does not matter whether a boy knows the exact date of a battle or the birthday of some marshal or other, nor when the crown of his fathers was placed on the brow of some insignificant monarch. That is not what matters.

To study history means to search for and discover the forces that are the causes of those results which appear before our eyes as historical events. The art of reading and studying consists in remembering the essentials and forgetting what is inessential.

Probably my whole future life was determined by the fact that I had a teacher of history who understood, as few others understand, how to make this viewpoint prevail in teaching and in examining. He was the ideal personification of the qualities necessary to a teacher of history in the sense I have mentioned above.

An elderly gentleman with a decisive manner but a kindly heart, he was a very attractive speaker and, was able to inspire us with his own enthusiasm. Even to-day I cannot recall without emotion that venerable personality whose enthusiastic exposition of history so often made us entirely forget the present and allow ourselves to be transported as if by magic into the past.

He penetrated through the dim mist of thousands of years and transformed the historical memory of the dead, past into a living reality. When we listened to him we became afire with enthusiasm and we were sometimes moved even to tears.

It was still more fortunate that this master was able not only to illustrate the past by examples from the present, but from the past, he was also able to draw a lesson for the present.

He understood better than any other the everyday problems that were then agitating our minds. The national fervour which we fell in our own small way was utilised by him as an instrument of our education, inasmuch as he often appealed to our national sense of honour, for in that way he maintained order and held our attention much more easily than he could have done by any other means. It was because I had such a master that history became my favourite subject. As a natural consequence, but without the conscious connivance of my teacher, I then and there became a young rebel.

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