The History Lesson

“Why do we have to learn about something that doesn’t effect us?” the small, blonde student asked me. “I mean, it was ages ago, and not even in our country.”

She might as well have run me through the heart with a stake, the pain of her words struck me so deeply.  I considered her:  an average student, indulged, youngest child, modestly dressed, like many of her age. Disinterested.

Because without our awareness, and interference, history repeats itself, I wanted to say.  Because nothing that happens in the world happens in isolation; we are not immune. Because ignorance makes victims of us all.

Instead, I sent the class home with an assignment:  ask questions, call your grandparents, find someone who remembers, and be prepared to share what you have discovered.


History foretells –
casts eerie shadows over
disregard’s future.

(dVerse’s Haibun Monday is hosted by Frank J. Tassone, who challenges us to write a piece for Hiroshima Day.)



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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

36 thoughts on “The History Lesson”

  1. You’re right that we keep on doing the same shameful things, whether or not we are taught about the past. We had two world wars within twenty years of one another! That’s barely even a generation apart!

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  2. Deep sigh. I am a student of history. I felt the stake through the heart as well with your student’s question. I’m curious what they learned when they sought out the stories from their elders. Well done!

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  3. I like very much your assignment (going to family members to learn history) direct and indirect experiences of war are not that far away and affect us even when not acknowledged.

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  4. As a teacher, I have faced this apathy over and over again. I like your original take on addressing it, and I hope it worked! You convey the importance of remembering, lest we repeat the horrors we’ve already committed. You haiku offers an ominous prophecy should we not learn from our history. Thank you, V.J.

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  5. I agree, teaching them of the lessons in the history will bring awareness and appreciation. Ignorance makes us all victims. Thank you for giving this as an assignment to these youngsters.

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  6. This is very true. I find the same indifference and self satisfied attitudes in many of the young people I know. One can only hope that something we say penetrates.

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