The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

History and Thinking

The below article describes how history and critical thinking aids problem solveing in today’s environment.  This goes to heart of why we teach history here at CGSC.

Historical Ignorance and Economy

October 25, 2011 - Posted by | H100, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , ,


  1. Mr. Augustine’s article is food for thought. Not too many people give History a second thought when we talk about education’s important subjects. Even our past educational views were all about the Three “R’s”, reading, writing, and arithmetic. As you can see, Spelling was as important as History…

    As his article points out though, the study of History allows people to expose themselves to situations, ideas, atrocities that have already played out from start to finish. With this information people can begin to understand the cause and effect of certain actions and maybe even more important, understand why some things are happening today (past grievances / feuds / national borders that divide traditional ethnic lands). Historical study allows us to “see” the world through other cultures and nation’s eyes and form our own opinions, free mass media’s influence. This alone, being able to form an educated and unbiased opinion, leads a person to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in any organization or environment.

    Comment by MAJ Chris Moore, 17A | October 26, 2011

  2. Mr. Augustine makes some interesting points. I would agree with his stance that studying history has the ability to assist in critical thinking. A good study of history provides us with a vast amount of knowledge that extends beyond our own personal experiences. This knowledge is invaluable when confronted by poorly defined problems. An education in history can allow one to frame the issue and apply a logical solution—again, based on something beyond our own experiences.

    I would submit that although counter-intuitive, the study of history is more important than ever in the technological age. Rapid globalization has brought many cultures and civilizations together in a way that was simply unthinkable twenty years ago. History, as the study of the human experience, has the ability to “bridge the gap” when difficult situations arise between these groups.

    Comment by Maj Chris Duffett, USAF, 17D | October 28, 2011

  3. In principle, I agree with Mr. Augustine in his assessment that History is not emphasized in today’s educational system and that the study of History increases proficiency in other areas. However, Mr. Augustine is short on recommendations to remedy History education in this country. In the current climate of teaching to standardized tests, the pressures of college admission, and unqualified teachers, the solution is not as simple as just increasing the volume of instruction. Especially in public schools, instructional time is a zero-sum game. We even see this reality in the instruction in CGSC. However, it is clear that American students would be well served by receiving supplimental instruction in history, perhaps by increasing the emphasis placed on AP and IB programs in high school and better marketing the opportunities available to History majors in college.

    Comment by Matthew Wilder, 17D | October 28, 2011

  4. Great article on the assessment that history is not emphasized in many education systems. Mr. Augustine’s made several interesting points; studying history assist with critical thinking, allows better framing and applying logic and exposing students to historical events/figures. Yes history can aid in teaching critical thinking by encouraging students to think about past figures and how they made sacrifices and have become key figures. This pushes students to think outside the box as well as how to frame and apply logic. Gaining exposure to historical events and figures increases students knowledge base for past and future important knowledge.

    Comment by MAJ LaShaunda Jackson 17A | October 30, 2011

  5. Mr. Augustine made some interesting points. I believe he hit the nail on the head when he saiud they need to get away from raw memorization of facts and dates. History should be taught as an applied science; that meaning students should have to take historical example, analyzes them and generate some personal though to their application. This will accomplish all the tenants he laid out in his article. The student will have to:

    – Do research
    – Apply problem solving skills
    – Develop reading and writing skills

    Additionally students will exercise the following as well:

    – Use of logic
    – Develop the ability to apply knowledge
    – Strengthen critical thinking skills.

    All (the above) of which will enable the student to become a more successful professional in the business world, which was the intent of the author.

    Comment by MAJ Chittenden SG17A | October 30, 2011

  6. Mr. Augustine wrote and outstanding article and I agree with him that history is not emphasized in many education systems. In the business world, many people struggle with research ability, writing, and problem solving. Studying history can develop all these skills and cause students to come up with solutions that will help them in their future lives. Looking at the past leaders their deep study of history made them better all around leaders. We have to start building these fundamentals early, with all the technological advance we need to expose children to history early than the past. We need to model the past, with education focus on history and reinforce the learning with additional tenets such as a language. I believe this would get to what Mr. Augustine end state of a better professional ready for the business world.

    Comment by MAJ Carl Mason, 17A | November 2, 2011

  7. I want to start by agreeing with the comments above. I do not want people to believe that I am against the study of history or its application to understanding current events, especially on a History blog website. Mr. Augustine’s article suggests that students cannot develop critical thinking, research skills, or the ability to communicate clearly and cogently without studying history. I believe that these skills can easily be developed in science and economics. I leave out math only because of the reference to 12th graders and below. I would also argue that students to participated in the yearlong National History Day program would have performed better in math and science anyway.
    History can teach critical thing and research skills, only if the student turns the data into knowledge and understanding. I can memorize the fact that Jomini was born in 1779 and if given a multiple choice test select the correct answer. Unless I can critically compare Jomini publishing the Art of War after 50 years of conflict to the Army publishing FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency after 5 years, the simple memorization of facts will not lead to critical thinking, but only data storage.

    Comment by Ryan D. Barnett, SG 17D | November 2, 2011

  8. Except for the rewards of remembering information from my high school history classes while playing Trivia Pursuit, I find little pleasure in memorizing names, dates and events.

    However, studying history with an analytical approach using the methods of critical thinking brings much more fascination to the subject. Facts are about the “Who and the what and the where and the when,” but analysis is about the “why” and the “what ifs.” The latter questions are much more intellectually engaging.

    So why analyze history? Certainly, the practice of critical thinking methods can be applied effectively within contemporary studies. I believe that it is important to know where you come from, as an individual, a family, a nation society and a profession. A deeper understanding of these roots provides a foundational strength of character that can stand the test of time… and history.

    Comment by Mark Nakazono | November 23, 2011

  9. Mark, I absolutely agree with everything you said. However, I do think there are benefits to memorization, especially in early child hood. Memorizing facts is like data stored on the hard drive of a computer. You never know when you might need them. For instance, key facts, dates, and events help us to quickly recall the context of a period.

    I actually don’t completely agree with Norm Augustine’s article. I think it is the model of public education that is flawed and so now society is beginning to see some of the poor performance results. In my opinion, there needs to be a return to the classical model of education that takes children through three stages of learning based on how a child develops and matures. The stages are grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Grammar is basically the memorization phase which goes through 5th grade. Logic stage starts when the child has developed the ability for abstract type of thinking. In other words, they begin to develop the ability to critically think. Rhetoric stage of learning is in the latter part of high school and builds off of the first two stages. It is in this stage that students begin to develop original thought.

    I just did not see the link between “history” and the ability to “critically think, research, and communicate.” There needed to be more clarity on the problem of how history is taught in school.

    Comment by Joel Jorgensen | November 24, 2011

  10. Joel has a good point on the need to keep memorization in the educational process. Personally, I find that my mind stays sharper when I rely on my mind to recall information instead of relying on my iPad and the Internet machine. However, memorizing facts does not necessarily lead to stronger critical thinking skills.

    I have seen the positive effect of studying history and the development of critical thinking skills. For example, my son’s critical thinking skills were markedly stronger after taking AP US History and using a method of study involving the dialectical journal. Writing a dialectical journal takes a lot more effort than studying facts and information, but in the end it produces students who understand how to process, analyze and synthesize information. Integrating the processes of critical thinking with the study of history is an appropriate and effective way to study history and leads to the development of a stronger intellectual base in our society.

    Oh, and regarding Augustine’s comment on the history and critical thinking skills leading to stronger performances in math and science I would say that the converse is also true in that strong in math and science skills leads to stronger performances in historical analysis and critical thinking.

    Comment by Mark Nakazono, 17C | November 29, 2011

  11. I am struck by Mark’s AP US History class using a dialectical journal. I took AP US History in High School and found it to be all about memorizing what the book said. Your son’s class is exactly what the classical model is all about in the rhetoric stage of learning.

    I also agree with Mark’s last comment and Ryan Barnett’s statement “students who participated in the yearlong National History Day program would have performed better in math and science anyway.” Developing critical thinking skills will have lasting benefits in every subject.

    Comment by Joel Jorgensen | December 11, 2011

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