This article is from Hillsdale College’s IMPRIMIS , Jan. 2013, Col. 42, No.1
….”Cicero wrote: ‘Not to know what happened before you were born, that is to be always a boy, to be forever a child.’
“In a sense, historical understanding-knowledge of what happened before you were born-is primary to all realms of knowledge. Science is…..Literature is…..Mathematics … The arts are…
Historical understanding in all these areas humanizes, matures, and uplifts the soul.
Too many citizens of our country today are, in Cicero’s terms, forever children. If knowledge of the past matures the soul, it is not something we can afford to marginalize of sideline. Unfortunately, the hard work of gaining knowledge, eloquence, and wisdom is all too often skirted by teacher and student alike. Because we have neglected knowledge of the past and the great tradition of historical understanding, we live in a cul;ture of Peter Pans, flying free in Veverland with no-past and no future, only the ever-present game, the mock battle against pirates or Indians. Wendy’s stories, with their plot of real challenges to be overcome, only reveal to us our immaturity, the fact that we are forever children who won’t grow up.
The author says, “In my short professional tenure as a teacher, I have had the privilege of seeing students mature through coming to know the past……..I have witnessed the change in my students’ relationships with one another: a more mature thoughtfulness, a deeper sensitivity. Nothing is more satisfying for a teacher than seeing how interaction and with the stories of the past matures the souls of his students.”
“As G.K. Chesterton said in another context, the great tradition has not been tried and found wanting; it has been tried, found difficult, and duly abandoned……;”