Chapter XVI: The Significance of Geography and History - Summary

It is the nature of an experience to have implications which go far beyond what is at first consciously noted in it. Bringing these connections or implications to consciousness enhances the meaning of the experience. Any experience, however trivial in its first appearance, is capable of assuming an indefinite richness of significance by extending its range of perceived connections. Normal communication with others is the readiest way of effecting this development, for it links up the net results of the experience of the group and even the race with the immediate experience of an individual. By normal communication is meant that in which there is a joint interest, a common interest, so that one is eager to give and the other to take. It contrasts with telling or stating things simply for the sake of impressing them upon another, merely in order to test him to see how much he has retained and can literally reproduce.

Geography and history are the two great school resources for bringing about the enlargement of the significance of a direct personal experience. The active occupations described in the previous chapter reach out in space and time with respect to both nature and man. Unless they are taught for external reasons or as mere modes of skill their chief educational value is that they provide the most direct and interesting roads out into the larger world of meanings stated in history and geography. While history makes explicit human implications and geography natural connections, these subjects are two phases of the same living whole, since the life of men in association goes on in nature, not as in an accidental setting, but as the material and medium of development.