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Does History Repeat Himself?

The question “Does history repeat itself?” is explored in great detail in numerous courses taught throughout the world. History has been the subject of countless classes, movies, plays, documentaries, and even online courses taught by some of the best history teachers around the world. And who can argue with a presentation example which presents the basic thesis of history at its simplest, most understandable form?

As a presentation example, I will give you one which I think is absolutely brilliant. But before I do I want to point out a few important concepts that are necessary to understand when comparing this presentation example to others. First, the use of a time-line is crucial to understanding how we see history. Time-lines can be presented in many different ways, but essentially they represent the chronological order of events. For instance, in a presentation by Professor Thomas Seichenger, the class will learn that the Industrial Revolution occurred in England in the 18th century. In comparing this presentation to a presentation by another professor, the distinction becomes clear-the earlier of the two examples would portray England as having been the victim of the Industrial Revolution, whereas the later example places it in the lead.

Next, there is the use of various charts and graphs. Again, there is no right or wrong way to present these, rather it depends on your purpose for using them. However, it is important to realize that there are many different types of presentation software and chart styles. For instance, the presentation example above would have worked far better with a presentation style called PowerPoint, as opposed to the more common Adobe Acrobat presentation software. In the end, it comes down to personal preference and taste, and what fits your audience the best.

In addition to comparing and contrasting presentation examples, it is also important to evaluate the presentation history itself. History is undeniably woven into the fabric of human civilization. For instance, most of us are intimately familiar with the idea that history repeats itself because what happened the last time around is likely to happen again. A simple look at any map or other visual presentation of history is enough to confirm this. We are all reminded of every major historical event through the press, television, the Internet, or each other. And because the Internet has made the process instantaneous, we can access this information at any given time.

The question of the validity of such a presentation example turns on the question of how much historical truth is truly attainable. We might indeed wish to follow the argument of those who believe that any and all history is essentially meaningless, and indeed that nothing ever changes, regardless of how important or unimportant it may be in the present day. This line of thought would preclude us from critically examining the methods and means of presentation.

On the other hand, this particular presentation example could well be said to illustrate the essential nature of history, in the sense that no single presentation can portray an entire history in a single frame of reference. There are many different perspectives and interpretations of any given historical event, and thus a presentation of the same event cannot be said to represent all possible views. The very same goes for the subsequent events and eras as well. Thus, it is necessary to examine each period and look closely at its own meaning, uniqueness, and relevance within the overall context of history and mankind as a whole.

The difficulty comes in when trying to analyze such a presentation example. Trying to find a single, clear and distinct presentation that can fully represent each and every era and locale is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, there are probably more opinions and differing interpretations of any given historical event than there are experts who can adequately interpret them. It therefore seems that the answer lies somewhere in between. What may be the right approach for one school of thought may be completely wrong for another.

The good news though is that we do have a host of resources available to us that can help us understand the true nature of history. In fact, one of the best ways to grasp the nature of history is to approach it through the lenses of science. Through applying scientific methods and ideas to studying history, we can come closer to understanding it and appreciate its repeating qualities. In this way, we can learn to see the nature of history, and indeed its repeating characteristics, for what they truly are… a beautiful gift from the greatest minds of the past that have sought to shape our world.

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