History is knowing about past events within their context and using it as a guide to the present and direct / lead / guide the future. It provides a perspective to deal with the problems of the present. The events that have actually occurred are evidenced by dates and specifics. It is a new knowledge gained from past issues and matters which are largely evidential. Let us see what sense of history means to people from different walks of life:
(a) Doctors diagnose problems of patient by eliciting medical history of their patients and plan course of treatment based on history;
(b) Sports Coaches prepare a game-plan for the team by gathering information about the historical play behavior of opponents;
(c) Judges write their judgments by relying many times on precedence and past cases;
(d) Bankers approve loan facility to customers on the basis of their credit history;
(e) Police round up criminals by comparing the current pattern with the history of similar deeds;
(f) Business plans are prepared from the knowledge of history of sales;
(g) Similarly, the scholastic merit of a student may be judged to a reasonable accuracy by reading the history of previous academic performance of the student.
So, history facilitates diagnosis, planning, strategizing and making important decisions. Many times even projections and predictions are possible by the knowledge of history – be it in academic, business, medical fields or even in personal sphere.
One need not always learn by personal experience but can be prudent enough to learn how others failed in the past in that area, matter or issue. Learning from others’ mistake is prudence. Life is complex and therefore history is complex. How one behaved in that situation in the past, what was the experience then, what were the consequences for such a decision, what are accomplishments – are all subject to personal biases of historians. Undermining the history could prove to be costly and many times could even be harmful. As someone said ‘you will ignore history at your own peril’. Unwavering faith in sense of history may lead to due diligence, effort optimization, time and money saving, and be less harmful.
A smart history student will observe in past events good and bad; change and continuity; creativity and destruction; generosity and greed; and such other experiences. After all, history is created by humans and humans are complex. So, it is important for the prudent among us to expect both, and make sense out of history to apply it in situations and help us prepare face the consequences and if possible, influence it. History displays the whole range of human emotions and behaviors in vivid colors and shows us our place in future history. It helps us understand families, societies, civilizations and nations. This is why we have to learn history. The specifics of how the causes and effects have shaped this world make history more appealing and interesting.
History provides us the key to the laboratory of human experience. It shows us how the world worked before and how it can work in present and future as well. It enables us to critically think, interpret, evaluate and decide. It gives all the essentials required to lead a good civic life. What to do and what not to do; History gives a roadmap and an evidential understanding of critical issues of life. Hence it is essential to be a student of history and grasp its nuances. We have all the good reasons therefore to celebrate the past all the time since we cannot separate or even escape from the past. Both the present and future have to become history. So it makes a lot of sense to develop a sense of history.
PES University has in its mission statement – Sense of History.