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Historical Analysis

Once we begin to examine ideological influences upon our perspectives, we almost inevitably are led back to the past where similar as well as different beliefs existed. For example, the now common desire to get a "good education" can be traced back to the beginnings of this country. Yet this analysis across history also reveals that the nature of this belief has changed over time.

A historical analysis on perspectives on education can be drawn as

How perspectives change with time

The 17th c Puritans, for instance, valued education because they learned to read the Bible, and one of the primary purposes of attending Harvard and Yale was to prepare men to be spiritual and civic leaders. Today, however, we often value education for economic than religious reasons. Even the 19th century belief in a liberal arts curriculum, to create well-rounded individuals, has faded.

Of course, we do not have to go so far back in time to practice historical analysis. Most college students can think critically about changes and continuities in their own beliefs about a college education. Yet these apparently personal changes often reflect larger historical trends.

For two examples of historical analysis, go to an excerpt of a student's RLC 110 paper and a related assignment from another department.