I help folks rethink the interpretations of the past. We each come to know the historical past through a process, whether taught in school, or through our own reading, or simply what we hear from the media and those around us. While we might not have any outward suspicion that what we learn may be inaccurate, we can’t know that unless we question it, that is question the sources and interpretations. This is what I do in my capacity as a Museum Director and University Professor. I encourage students and the visiting public, to question what they are learning.
Why rethink what we already know or can easily “google” or ask AI? Because it is all interpretation. We know recorded history is an interpretation of a past event, based on the available sources, and influenced by the historians worldview and bias, but so too is everything else. Clearly at some point we have to get off the researching treadmill and make about decision, but we do not have to commit in stone to that decision. We can leave an open space for new information or interpretation and committing only to the disclaimer; “based on what I know now.”
You might wonder what brought me to this point of action. Simply put, it comes from the phrases I have heard hundreds of times in my professional life: “I was taught” or “I always thought” or my all time favorite, “that’s not what I heard.” And my general response; “if I only had a nickel every time I heard that.”
Of course, I am not the only one beating this drum. While some states are banning books and prohibiting what can be taught in the classroom, others are requiring courses in media literacy and source evaluation.
I’d like to see us all have access to the information that can help inform our decisions while leaving open a space to change our minds. To prove to yourself you need this, dig deep into the recesses of your clothes closet and pull out something you have not worn in years, then ask yourself, “what was I thinking?”
Sorry, I don’t do closets, but I can help you rethink history.