What is the point of history and literature classes?

Ashley Wright (Abbate), Bachelors of Arts in Medieval History and Literature, Class of 2011

Is it to take it in the context of today? Or take it in the context of the time and see how it applies or relates to today? I believe it is the latter. The point of these classes is to learn from them so that we either don’t make the same mistakes or to see what was done right and build upon it.

    If we take out the events, people and specific words out of history, out of literature, how are we supposed to know what actually happened? How do we learn? How do we escape this world and fully immerse ourselves in another one? We cannot understand unless we have the whole picture or as much of the whole picture as we can get. To eliminate words just because someone doesn’t like to hear them is akin to banning a book just because the word is in there or because we don’t like the theory it’s presenting. So why are we banning teachers for teaching the books, the history?

    How is a teacher supposed to teach if you tie their hands? Whether it be the school tying their hands or the students themselves. We don’t not teach something just because someone doesn’t like it. We teach it so that we can understand why we don’t like it, so that we can grow from it. If you erase that event, person or word altogether and pretend it doesn’t exist, how do we learn from that? How does a teacher teach that? The answer is, we can’t. And they can’t. Therefore, no learning is being done, and we are doomed to potentially repeat something that we never had to. Or we never learn about the struggles of another. In not learning about the struggles of another person, we are pulling away from them. Instead of bringing people closer together, we are separating them further. Lack of understanding and knowledge only hinders relationships; it doesn’t encourage them.

    If Phil Adamo is fired, the college is showing that they do not care about students’ learning and progress. I know they do not agree with me because they want to promote “safe” places. But when has anyone truly learned or grown by staying in a safe place, by not exploring alternatives, by not wrestling with those hard topics and come out the other side a new, better person?

         It is important to teach topics, events, words and ideas that challenge us. It is important to have good teachers that are willing to discuss those hard topics with us. Phil Adamo is a credit to Augsburg University. Without him and teachers like him, Augsburg University will be less of an educational institution.

This article was originally published in the Jan. 25, 2019 issue.