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Jacob Casady


M15: Portfolio Reflection

How the Past Teaches the Present

Mankind has only been able to come so far due to our ability to learn, adapt and

overcome challenges. History allows us to look at past events and learn from the mistakes of our

ancestors. When one learns about the past its not just about past actions, its about past lives,

experiences, mistakes and accomplishments. Education can take many forms, from book learn to

observation of behaviors. By looking at great leaders of the past we can see what it takes to move

a nation into prosperity or what signs to look for when a nation is on the verge of collapse. We

can observe past military campaigns and learn strategies as well as mistakes that resulted in their

failure. By recording history, we are creating a framework that allows future generations to learn

from our mistakes and may help them pave the way for a greater humanity. By observing how

education influenced society we can learn why one civilization flourished while others failed,

why one military was unstoppable when another could not hold its ground and why education

can influence technology, economy, war and culture.

When speaking of technological advancements, we must look at the people who

developed the technologies. The Hittites were extremely skilled metallurgist and one of the first

peoples to learn to smelt and forge iron. Their skill in metallurgy most likely developed due to

their regions great wealth in minerals. “Besides the timber and stone essential for construction,

but deficient in Mesopotamia, Anatolia had rich mines which provided copper, silver, iron, and
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gold” (Mark) In a time where bronze was the main metal used in weapon and artifact

construction the Hittites excelled beyond its surrounding peoples. By learning and understanding

how the process works and educating other smiths the Hittites could craft items much stronger

and more durable then commonly seen. This also allowed them to make use of iron which was

not a valuable resource at the time due to the inability of other civilizations to forge it. By

understanding metallurgy and teaching it amongst its people we see how education can play such

an important role in the technological advancements of people in history.

Even in modern militaries we still look to the past for guidance. One of the greatest

pieces of military literature is Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and many of the tactics taught in it are

still used today. This shows how important education can be in war and how even if the times

have changed and technology has advanced by great strides we can still learn and master tactics

by looking at past and understanding how great leaders and generals accomplished their

victories. One key example of educations importance in war would be in the case of Alexander

the Great. When Alexander encountered the problem of besieging enemy fortifications he hired

educated engineers to assist him. These engineers developed siege engines that could assault

enemy fortifications from great distances and help secure many victories for Alexander the Great

and the whole of Macedonia. Another example would be the Agoge that all male Spartan citizens

had to complete. “… males had a militaristic upbringing known as the agōgē where they were

separated into age groups and lived in barracks. These youths pursued rigorous athletic and

military training …” (Cartwright) This program educated the young boys to become elite

soldiers and every boy was paired with an older experienced soldier as a mentor. These mentors

educated the children on tactics and tradition of the Spartan military.
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Economies are the life blood of civilizations, warfare can capture land but if you do not

have the funds or supplies to maintain a nation then it will surely fall. Given its importance most

matters of economy were left to highly educated committee in ancient civilizations and even

today. Maintaining a strong economy required educated minds who could understand the flow of

wealth and the requirements of a nation. Supplies had to be stockpiled during certain parts of the

year and shipments sent to other cities and nations. This required both traders and committees to

understand foreign culture, the value of goods and the most economical areas to purchase them,

which times of the year to buy foodstuffs and which times to buy seeds. This also required

traders to be educated in the fields of bartering, economics and geography. Traders had to

develop trade routes that allowed them to most effectively deliver and receive merchandise. This

meant that they had to understand the topography of the routes, the values of the goods they

brought and the need for these goods in foreign lands.

Culture is essentially the education of group of peoples the activities, beliefs and

traditions of their ancestors. This education from generation to generation allowed things such as

religion to survive for hundreds of years. By teaching the youth the traditions of a people allow

them to carry their culture to future generations and to share it with other people. This allows us

all to view life from a different perspective. Even in death the History of Muhammad’s actions

allowed others to be educated in the way of Islam and allowed it to spread “The Islamic state

expanded very rapidly after the death of Muhammad through remarkable successes both at

converting unbelievers to Islam and by military conquests of the Islamic community's

opponents” (Islam) By Muhammad teaching his faith to the masses he planted the seed for Islam

to spread across the world and his beliefs and traditions are still here to this day.
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Education is in every society and is what has allowed us to become the most intelligent

and resilient species on earth. By passing knowledge from one person to another we have

allowed one person to know more then an entire ancient civilization would have. It is this ability

that truly makes us human and I believe that history is the key for us to truly understand who we

are and why we are here. By looking at the actions of past civilizations we can better understand

how to improve ourselves and create a better world. How to prevent wars and poverty and how

one great leader can shape the world.
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Works Citied

Islam, The Spread Of Islam,

Cartwright, Mark. “Sparta.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 29

Apr. 2018,

Mark, Joshua J. “Hatti.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 29 Apr.