History is a topic that many find boring to study or a waste of time. But there is more to studying history than meets the eye. Let’s answer the age-old question: “Why is history important?”
What Is History?
History is the knowledge of and study of the past. It is the story of the past and a form of collective memory. History is the story of who we are, where we come from, and can potentially reveal where we are headed.
Why Study History: The Importance
History is important to study because it is essential for all of us in understanding ourselves and the world around us. There is a history of every field and topic, from medicine, to music, to art. To know and understand history is absolutely necessary, even though the results of historical study are not as visible, and less immediate.
Allows You To Comprehend More
1. Our World
History gives us a very clear picture of how the various aspects of society — such as technology, governmental systems, and even society as a whole — worked in the past so we understand how it came to work the way it is now.
2. Society And Other People
Studying history allows us to observe and understand how people and societies behaved. For example, we are able to evaluate war, even when a nation is at peace, by looking back at previous events. History provides us with the data that is used to create laws, or theories about various aspects of society.
History can help provide us with a sense of identity. This is actually one of the main reasons that history is still taught in schools around the world. Historians have been able to learn about how countries, families, and groups were formed, and how they evolved and developed over time. When an individual takes it upon themselves to dive deep into their own family’s history, they can understand how their family interacted with larger historical change. Did family serve in major wars? Were they present for significant events?
4. Present-Day Issues
History helps us to understand present-day issues by asking deeper questions as to why things are the way they are. Why did wars in Europe in the 20th century matter to countries around the world? How did Hitler gain and maintain power for as long as he had? How has this had an effect on shaping our world and our global political system today?
5. The Process Of Change Over Time
If we want to truly understand why something happened — in any area or field, such as one political party winning the last election vs the other, or a major change in the number of smokers — you need to look for factors that took place earlier. Only through the study of history can people really see and grasp the reasons behind these changes, and only through history can we understand what elements of an institution or a society continue regardless of continual change.
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You Learn A Clear Lesson
1. Political Intelligence
History can help us become better informed citizens. It shows us who we are as a collective group, and being informed of this is a key element in maintaining a democratic society. This knowledge helps people take an active role in the political forum through educated debates and by refining people’s core beliefs. Through knowledge of history, citizens can even change their old belief systems.
2. History Teaches Morals And Values
By looking at specific stories of individuals and situations, you can test your own morals and values. You can compare it to some real and difficult situations individuals have had to face in trying times. Looking to people who have faced and overcome adversity can be inspiring. You can study the great people of history who successfully worked through moral dilemmas, and also ordinary people who teach us lessons in courage, persistence and protest.
3. Builds Better Citizenship
The study of history is a non-negotiable aspect of better citizenship. This is one of the main reasons why it is taught as a part of school curricula. People that push for citizenship history (relationship between a citizen and the state) just want to promote a strong national identity and even national loyalty through the teaching of lessons of individual and collective success.
4. Learn From The Past And Notice Clear Warning Signs
We learn from past atrocities against groups of people; genocides, wars, and attacks. Through this collective suffering, we have learned to pay attention to the warning signs leading up to such atrocities. Society has been able to take these warning signs and fight against them when they see them in the present day. Knowing what events led up to these various wars helps us better influence our future.
5. Gaining A Career Through History
The skills that are acquired through learning about history, such as critical thinking, research, assessing information, etc, are all useful skills that are sought by employers. Many employers see these skills as being an asset in their employees and will hire those with history degrees in various roles and industries.
6. Personal Growth And Appreciation
Understanding past events and how they impact the world today can bring about empathy and understanding for groups of people whose history may be different from the mainstream. You will also understand the suffering, joy, and chaos that were necessary for the present day to happen and appreciate all that you are able to benefit from past efforts today.
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Develop And Refine Your Skills Through Studying History
1. Reading And Writing
You can refine your reading skills by reading texts from a wide array of time periods. Language has changed and evolved over time and so has the way people write and express themselves. You can also refine your writing skills through learning to not just repeat what someone else said, but to analyze information from multiple sources and come up with your own conclusions. It’s two birds with one stone — better writing and critical thinking!
2. Craft Your Own Opinions
There are so many sources of information out in the world. Finding a decisive truth for many topics just doesn’t exist. What was a victory for one group was a great loss for another — you get to create your own opinions of these events.
History gives us the opportunity to learn from others’ past mistakes. It helps us understand the many reasons why people may behave the way they do. As a result, it helps us become more impartial as decision-makers.
4. How To Do Research
In the study of history you will need to conduct research. This gives you the opportunity to look at two kinds of sources — primary (written at the time) and secondary sources (written about a time period, after the fact). This practice can teach you how to decipher between reliable and unreliable sources.
5. Quantitative Analysis
There are numbers and data to be learned from history. In terms of patterns: patterns in population, desertions during times of war, and even in environmental factors. These patterns that are found help clarify why things happened as they did.
6. Qualitative Analysis
It’s incredibly important to learn to question the quality of the information and “history” you are learning. Keep these two questions in mind as you read through information: How do I know what I’m reading are facts and accurate information? Could they be the writer’s opinions?
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We Are All Living Histories
All people and cultures are living histories. The languages we speak are inherited from the past. Our cultures, traditions, and religions are all inherited from the past. We even inherit our genetic makeup from those that lived before us. Knowing these connections give you a basic understanding of the condition of being human.
History Is Fun
Learning about history can be a great deal of fun. We have the throngs of movies about our past to prove it. History is full of some of the most interesting and fascinating stories ever told, including pirates, treasure, mysteries, and adventures. On a regular basis new stories from the past keep emerging to the mainstream.
Better yet, there is a history of every topic and field. Whatever you find fascinating there is a history to go along with it. Dive a bit deeper into any topic’s history and you will be surprised by what you might find in the process.
The subject of history can help you develop your skills and transform you to be a better version of yourself as a citizen, a student, and person overall.
If you are looking to develop more of yourself and skills for your future career, check out the degree programs that are offered by University of the People — a tuition-free, 100% online, U.S. accredited university.