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(By Chris Sharp) I have to say that our science departments have been doing a better job than our history teachers in our schools today.   That’s why I think we need to make a call back into the 19th Century to ask a certain Thomas Carlyle to help us learn history to our present young people.

It seems that at least our science teachers are providing living maps to our graduating students toward helping them find their way in a world that is both scientific and historic.

But what about the maps that history departments are providing to our kids?  To tell you the truth, I cannot understand them, and I have long been certified as a California history teacher.

If I am to believe the state California curriculum, history is a kind of list of names of battles and bridges. Plus, it is a practically infinite list of names of old politicians and state lunatics (like Adolf Hitler and his doings.)  It is about as easy to leave school with all this as a map to the contemporary history we enter as it is to pass the state bar by studying telephone books.

But, really, the present state of the history curriculum wasn’t everyone’s idea.  It was really far from the idea of the man who has sometimes been called the greatest English historian of all time, that old Thomas Carlyle from 19th Century Scotland.

Today it is common to think of Carlyle’s historic masterpiece, The French Revolution: A History, as a classic of antiquated chronicling.  But when the book came out in 1837, it was seen as the opposite of antiquated.  It was seen as revolutionary in its style as well as its form.

And at that time, King Louis XVI was beheaded only 39 years before Carlyle’s book on the French Revolution came out.  That would be like a historian today writing about events that happened in 1978, during the Jimmy Carter presidency. So for Carlyle, the French Revolution was practically the contemporary history of his own time.

But the importance of Carlyle’s historical production is that it may well have saved England from the kind of revival of a French Revolution that overcame practically every major country of Europe within a century of Carlyle’s book coming out, That included cataclysms that took place in Russia, Italy, Germany and Spain through all that hard-hit 20th Century.

Read more here: A Sharp View:  Let Mr. Carlyle teach history in our schools today