this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (9/21/2011; sorry subscription required) on how historical illiteracy hurts our politics and our businesses.Here is John Locke's answer: History "is the great mistress of prudence and civil knowledge and ought to be the proper study of a gentleman or man of business in the world." He adds that civil law "and history are studies which a gentleman should not barely touch at, but constantly dwell upon and never have done with." Someone who constantly studies civil law and history (and understands Latin and can write a "good hand"), can be "turned loose into the world with great assurance that he will find employment and esteem everywhere." (Some Thoughts Concerning Education, #182 and 186). Ok, you say, that might have worked in 1690, but it isn't true today. Well, check out
Students, why don't you send me (firstname.lastname@example.org) your favorite reasons for studying history or your favorite quotes on that. I'll post them here.