Page 10 - 2012 Spring Lycoming Mag

enjoy learning, and the classroom enables me to share
that interest with others. As a historian, teaching also gives
me the opportunity, indeed the obligation, to continue
learning in order to introduce students to the latest insights
developed by scholars who continue to illuminate the past.
I chose to teach history because like most historians, I believe
that we study the past not to avoid the mistakes of bygone eras,
but to better understand the human condition generally and
ourselves in particular. To understand ourselves, we must know
where the ideas and values that define our belief systems and shape
our behaviors emerged and why those values and beliefs persisted
over time.
I tell my students that many academic disciplines seek a better
understanding of the human condition, but that history does it best.
I tell them that psychologists seek to understand people by
injecting caffeine into rats, and that sociologists seek that
understanding by sending out questionnaires that no one
answers honestly, while students of literature believe
that if something is said eloquently enough then it
must be true; on the other hand, historians seek to
understand the human condition by examining the
actions of people over time.
Richard Morris
Professor of History