Eric Sweetwood's Philosophy of History
My philosophy on history is that the past needs to be related to the current times. If I have done anything in my career of twenty-five years as an educator, it has been consistently to show how the past relates to current events. Students need to see how the problems and occurrences from our past has molded us and shaped us into how we behave, how we think, and how we address our current cultural needs.
I further believe that history needs to be “personal.” What I mean by such is that the students need to take a look at the lives of the people from our past and discover that they were living, thinking, and
“human” entities, not just cliché’ ridden ghosts filled with quotes. When our past leaders failed, it is important to know that in their failures, and their actions molded our current state of affairs and their errors
gave us a foundation to build upon. Conversely, when our past leaders succeeded, their courage and wisdom
lead us to the same foundation so we can gain our strength and base our judgments on solid reasoning.
I also believe history is a “living” subject. We have the keys to not only experience conditions of the past, but voices from our past tend to never really fade. Their words, their actions, and their lessons thrive on, long after their corporal bodies have left their time. History is truly the only subject that never alters, and never will be forgotten, as our society’s method of documentation and artifacts lives on for further
To know history is to truly know ourselves. As I tell my students, each of us is a living historical document. Our birth is recorded, events we partake in will be witnessed and sometimes recorded, and each of us will leave something behind. We are a living primary source and we create our own documents in how we conduct ourselves and the legacy we leave for others to decipher. I always remind my students to “create your own history.”
Lastly, American history is the greatest subject of all, simply because our forefathers, and in turn, we are
left to create the greatest philosophically refined social order in the history of mankind. We are left to take
all of the best ideas of past cultures and create a truly fair, uniquely strong, and culturally dynamic society that calls on the best of all citizens to contribute and allow a better future for every generation, throughout the world, as we offer an example of true diversity, true freedom, and true democracy.