History not just thing of the past
Jared Lang | Highlands TodayOver the past few years, a metamorphosis has occurred regarding my interest in American history. Somewhere between the frequent in-class naps and clock-watching, I started to pay attention to my teachers and have gained a true interest in the story of our great nation and the relevance of the past to today's national issues.
Published: December 5, 2012
Published: December 5, 2012
This August, I began my first semester of International Baccalaureate History of the Americas, a two-year course designed to teach students the history of North and South America from the ancient Incan and Aztec empires to present day. In the three short months I've been in the class we've already studied the exploration and colonization of America by European nations, the fall of indigenous American empires, independence movements in the Americas (especially the American Revolution), the social and political beginnings of the United States, the formation of a national U.S. identity and the first few U.S. presidents. While many of my classmates find history incredibly boring, I can't help but get excited about it.
As an avid follower of American politics, the recent presidential election was very interesting for me. This was the first election during which I was old enough to actually understand the issues and listen to the candidates.
In the weeks leading up to the election, my history class fought the American Revolution, wrote the Constitution, appealed to the states for its ratification, elected George Washington and set many political precedents that are still observable today.
What's better than learning about the creation of the Electoral College in the morning then listening to the pundits break down the key swing states that night? Or analyzing a broad interpretation of the Constitution versus a strict one, and that same week analyzing President Obama's and Mitt Romney's debates regarding federal power?
To observe the U.S. government and its politics with a rich historical background is to see it through a new filter. History of the Americas has quickly become my most practical class and has even led me to want to enter the field of law, and hopefully become a politician one day.
I realize that politicians often carry a bad connotation due to their conniving ways and seemingly power-hungry motives, but with inspirations like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and George Washington, I can't help but want to lead and preserve our great nation. In fact, my two favorite founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, had conflicting ideologies.
What I love about them, however, is their insistence on protecting the future of the United States without defying their morals and beliefs. Hamilton was a staunch Federalist — in favor of federal power — while Jefferson was the leader of the Antifederalists, who were champions of states' rights. Not only have I gained a new interest in American history, but I've also gained a new perspective on the lack of interest by everyone else. American history is only briefly taught during one's schooling, and I believe as a result teenagers don't have an adequate appreciation for their nation's past. Creating students that are both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about American history would do wonders for the nation, as these students are future political leaders and voters.
One day, we will be making history.