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3.4 HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS OF CURRICULUM

People live in the present. They plan for and worry about the future History, however, is the study of the past. In a society that quite correctly expects education to serve useful purposes, the functions of history can seem more difficult to define than those of engineering or medicine.

Knowledge of historical facts has been used as a screening device in many societies, from China to the United States, and the habit is still with us to some extent.

History should be studied because it is essential to individuals and to society, and because it harbors beauty. There are many ways to discuss the real functions of the subject as there are many different historical talents and many different paths to historical meaning.

All definitions of history’s utility, however, rely on two fundamental facts.

  • 1. History Helps Us Understand People and Societies In the first place, history offers a storehouse of information about how people and societies behave. How can we evaluate war if the nation is at peace, unless we use historical materials?How can we understand genius, the influence of technological innovation, or the role that beliefs play in shaping family life, if we don’t use what we know about experiences in the past?
  • 2. History helps us Understand Change and how the Society we live in came to be The second reason history is inescapable as a subject of serious study follows closely on the first. The past causes the present, and so the future. Any time we try to know why something happened. History, then, provides the only extensive materials available to study the human condition. It also focuses attention on the complex processes of social change, including the factors that are causing change around us today.

The Importance of History in Our Own Lives

The fundamental reasons for studying history underlie more specific and quite diverse uses of history in our own lives.

History Contributes to Moral Understanding

History also provides a terrain for moral contemplation. Studying the stories of individuals and situations in the past allows a student of history to test his or her own moral sense, to hone it against some of the real complexities individuals have faced in difficult settings.

History Provides Identity

History also helps provide identity, and this is unquestionably one of the reasons all modern nations encourage its teaching in some form. Historical data include evidence about how families, groups, institutions and whole countries were formed and about how they have evolved while retaining cohesion.

Histories that tell the national story, emphasizing distinctive features of the national experience, are meant to drive home understanding of national values and a commitment to national loyalty.

Studying History is Essential for Good Citizenship

A study of history is essential for good citizenship. This is the mos common justification for the place of history in school curricula.

Sometimes advocates of citizenship history hope merely to promote national identity and loyalty through a history spiced by vivid stories and lessons in individual success and morality. But the importance of history for citizenship goes beyond this narrow goal and can even challenge it at some points.

More important, studying history encourages habits of mind that are vital for responsible public behavior, whether as a national or community leader, an informed voter, a petitioner, or a simple observer.It provides basic factual information about the background of our political institutions and about the values and problems that affect our social well-being.

History Is Useful in the World of Work

History is useful for work. Its study helps create good businesspeople, professionals, and political leaders. Why study history? The answer is because we virtually must, to gain access to the laboratory of human experience.

Intercultural contacts provide opportunities for thoughtful and consistent change in our traditional ways and conventional modes of life. We can to have become wiser only when we have incorporated judicious changes, thereby keeping pace with the marching advance of time.

When we study it reasonably well, and so acquire some usable habits of mind, as well as some basic data about the forces that affect our own lives, we emerge with relevant skills and an enhanced capacity for informed citizenship, critical thinking, and simple awareness.

In this we discuss all historical parts, phenomena and stories. While history may always contain some element of subjective interpretation, nevertheless good historical scholarship can be extremely valuable. It is a mine of life, a study of man’s evolution on earth. As such, history is a link between the past and the present, which gives us a sense of continuity and progress.

The history of Islamic civilization in general and of Islamic education in particular should provide the broad foundation for our curriculum, with the possibility of some changes as determined by new circumstances.

More specifically, the study of the history of the curriculum can help us greatly in theorizing about curriculum of the present and future. For example, when we try to change or modify a curriculum scheme, the history of curriculum development can serve as a good guide to the solution of our current problems, helping us to devise a curriculum in accordance with our present situation and future aspirations. It can make us more aware of the possibility of change, and of its complexity.

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