But the value of an introductory class lies, I think, in instilling a particular way of thinking. In history, that means recognizing:That everything – every concept, activity, institution, and social role -- has a history.
That “we can’t escape history” -- that our lives are caught up in long-term historical processes and that many of society’s most pressing problems are rooted in the past decisions and actions.
That judging the past fairly is hard, since it requires us to recognize that the past is another country, with its own culture, circumstances, and moral frameworks.
That “nothing is inevitable until it happens,” that history is contingent and key events are the consequence of chance, personality, mindsets, individual and collective choices, and circumstances.
That “History is problem solving”; understanding the confluence of factors and conjuncture of forces that contribute to historical change, whether this involves the role of racism or fear of the Soviet Union play in the decision to use nuclear weapons against Japan or the influence of geography on the outcome of the Civil War.