How often have you heard your child say, “why do I need to learn this?” or, “I’ll never use it!”? Even adults sometimes question the value of liberal arts courses, particularly when the governor of North Carolina comments, “What are we teaching these courses for if they’re not going to help get a job?” With the way the past few years have shaped up, it may be wise to reflect upon Winston Churchill’s quote when he said, “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”

The true stories found in history are chock full of information about how people and societies have made decisions and conducted themselves. These lessons provide a global lens to view the world around us and, based on the gathering and interpretation of facts, can greatly influence the future. For every action of the past, we can study the reaction and deliberate choices that we have availed as potential outcomes. In this way, history can serve as a warning sign and a wake-up call, allowing us to learn from poignant examples and giving us the opportunity to make our own calculated adjustments more proactively.

How does this apply to us?
There is no doubt that “united we stand, divided we fall” holds great value and relevance to current times. Just as in nature, a herd united together is more powerful in its defenses than the lone animal seeking to survive on its own. The transferability to our world, our children’s education, our families, personal relationships, and our colleagues within the workplace is undeniable. The need for an increased mindfulness towards civility, respect, kindness, and a positive regard for one another is paramount in this ever-changing and evolving world that we live in.

As a community, we rallied together and for a brief period of time set aside our differences to address the crisis at hand that we faced with Hurricane Irma. We’ve watched the same acts of unity in Houston and now, under very different circumstances, in Las Vegas. Let us now critically and thoughtfully reflect upon these times to recognize that the ties that bind us as fellow citizens, are more powerful and impactful when we unite together.

At times of challenge or hardship, we are called upon to find resilience and positivity despite the obstacles that we’ve encountered.

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” ― J.K. Rowling,

Thus, the impetus is on us as parents, educators, leaders, and residents of our beautiful city of Sarasota, to lead the way and serve as role models to others – and not just in times of challenge.

Our unity and civility demonstrated only weeks ago in Sarasota reminds us of the power of our deeply rooted values as a community, how we react to challenges and bond together in times of need, and our ability to embrace the wisdom of our history as we move forward – together.

The value and capacity of our learning is tremendous. We look at education to define and broaden our understanding:

“The ability to recognize opportunities and move in new and sometimes unexpected directions will benefit you no matter your interests or aspirations. A liberal arts education is designed to equip students for just such flexibility and imagination” – Drew Gilpin Faust, President Harvard University

So when our children ask, “Why is history so important?” and “why do I have to study this?”, it behooves us to fully utilize these real-life examples that can inspire our children’s curiosity, creativity, problem solving, learning, with an understanding of personal relevance, and to realize their potential as contributing and impactful members of our community.
It seems very fitting to conclude with this quote from Heraclitus (circa 535-475 BCE), considered to be one of the most important pre-Socratic Greek philosophers:

“Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do, is who you become.”

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County is committed to supporting educators and helping all students graduate with purpose. Together, with our community, we can stand united as champions for education.