Do we learn from history?

Part of saying goodbye to Edinburgh again – as I leave on Friday to return to Block Island – is a belated rush to try to see all the stuff I meant to get round to. This morning I was at the Portrait Gallery and found myself stunned by an exhibition of photography by Edith Tudor-Hart, a person I had never previously heard about. Why Not? Well who knows the answer to that, but if anyone should get the chance to view her work, mainly from 1930’s, it is both beautiful and thought-provoking.

She was interested in inequality, poverty and the lives of children. She was political, a communist and/or socialist. She clearly cared deeply about others. She worked to try to bring thoughts about unemployment and poverty to others.


This picture is taken from the Portrait gallery website. There are lots more to be found via google if you are nowhere near Edinburgh. But, if you are near enough, the exhibition does a great job of conveying her interests and her photo-journalism, as well as giving us a chance to see the photos, and wonder what they tell us about that time.
I found myself asking the simple question: Do we ever learn anything from history? Sidey’s weekly challenge this week was “the question”.


9 thoughts on “Do we learn from history?

    1. thanks – haven’t heard from you for ages – its interesting to hear how you connect with Edinburgh even if you did not come here. Hope you enjoyed being a teacher too


  1. You know I think I have heard of her, though I think it was a documentary she did which I had seen years ago in a cinematography class. Either way, the photo here is enough to make look at work a little more in depth. I be a google’n.

    I think we learn from history, to what extent an how it is applied, that’s the question. What I want to know is how do I make a difference. That’s the question I seem to asking of myself of late.


    1. I think about the difference thing sort of like drops of water in a bucket. Most of us do not have much influence or opportunity to make a difference, especially after retiring (who would be listening to me?) but we still count in the grand scheme of things for better or for worse because there are a lot of us. Keep hoping, keep trying.


    1. Indeed – see what suits us and manage to avoid the rest – to be honest I am not sure how to answer my own question, I do hope we sometimes learn, but the photo exhibition would imply that history just repeats because we don’t, or maybe that each generation has to do their own learning


  2. Elspeth, I think every generation has to learn again, as you say.
    It is important to learn from the past, but not to dwell on it too much. Resentment pickles pain


    1. Resentment and its cousin, bitterness, really really have to be driven out by compassion or given short shrift somehow – you are so right, they preserve the pain instead of easing it. Thanks for you comment on my poems too.


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