When most of us think back to our childhood school days, we can remember at least a handful of kids who thought history class was a drag. To them, history was just a jumble of names and dates attached to events that happened a long time ago. What was the point of learning it at all?
They didn’t know then that history was one of the most important subjects they’d ever study. Here we’ll take a closer look at why history is important and explore why everyone should make it a point to study it in depth.
1. History helps us develop a better understanding of the world.
Understanding history helps us understand the world at large. History paints a detailed picture of how society, technology, and government worked in the past so that we can better understand how it works now. While world history might feel far away, studying history reveals how all events are connected. It also helps us determine how to approach the future, as it allows us to learn from our past mistakes (and triumphs) as a society.
2. History helps us understand ourselves.
To understand who you are, you need to develop a sense of self. Studying history at large can help us understand our personal history—learning where you fit into the story of your country or the global community in the grand scheme of things. History isn’t about dates, names, and events; history is about people, and history’s people tells you the story of how your nation, city, or community came to be everything that it is. It tells you where your ancestors came from and how their lives were shaped. Most importantly of all, it gives you the ability to spot (and appreciate) the legacies you may have inherited.
3. History helps us understand other people.
History isn’t just an essential introduction to your own country, ethnic heritage, and ancestry. It’s also a valuable tool when it comes to understanding the cultural history of those who are different from us. Global, national, and regional history books help us understand how other cultures affect our own.
They encourage us to develop a greater appreciation for multicultural influences within our own communities as well – exactly why everyone should study African American history, Native American culture, immigrant history, and so forth, regardless of their own cultural background.
4. History teaches a working understanding of change.
Change can be a difficult concept to understand. Each of us has a different experience with the rest of the world – an experience shaped by societal norms, cultural differences, personal experiences, and more. We know when we as individuals crave change and why. But the study of history is a study of change, on a broader scale. History helps us better understand how, when, and why change occurs (or should be sought) by demonstrating the historical evolution of ideas, technologies, beliefs, places, and more.
5. History helps us be decent citizens.
Good citizens are always informed citizens, and no one can consider himself to be an informed citizen without a working knowledge of history. This is the case whether we’re talking about our role in our community or to our nation overall. History helps us become better voters, develop self-awareness, participate in society, and adopt responsible public behavior. Through responsible and informed citizenship, we can better inform others as well.
6. History makes us better decision makers.
“Those that do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Those words were first spoken by George Santayana, and they are still very relevant today because of how true they are. You don’t need a history degree to benefit from history’s lessons—to learn from past mistakes and improve judgment. It helps us understand the many reasons why people may behave the way they do. As a result, it helps us become more compassionate as people and more impartial as decision makers. Our judicial system is a perfect example of this concept at work.
7. History helps us develop a new level of appreciation for just about everything.
History is more than just the living record of nations, leaders, and wars. It’s also the story of us. It’s packed with tales of how someone stood up for what they believed in, or died for love, or worked hard to make their dreams come true. When we appreciate history, we appreciate the sacrifices and hard work of those who came before us. All of those things are concepts we can relate to, as could the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, or Martin Luther King.
Plus, history is just plain interesting. Everything you like about your favorite movies, television shows, and fiction novels is yours to experience right here in reality when you study history, whether in or out of a history department. Explore the possibilities today and step into a whole new world that will change who you are forever.
Discover more books from Arcadia Publishing.