At this point, you have probably just read the title for this article (or just went back to read it) and thought, “Well, I guess it’s time to flip to the next article,” or, perhaps, “Is this guy really going to talk about history class?” Yes. Yes I am. But do not leave just yet, because history, as I will hopefully show you, is quite fun. For example, did you know that Canadian Prime Minister John Abbott’s most memorable quote is legitimately “I hate politics,” or that Mexican leader Santa Anna held a state funeral for his severed leg? Maybe you did know those things, but if you did not, perhaps I have wowed you with my extensive knowledge of history (and how to use Google).
Though for many of you, it is very possible that right now you are thinking back to your last history class, either in high school, a past semester, or one you are currently taking. Certainly, if your last one was in Secondary Four where you learned all about indigenous people, and how some were sedentary while others were nomadic, and some were matriarchal and others were patriarchal, and etc., then even I will admit that stuff was boring. Anyways, facts are not what history class is all about. Undoubtedly, historical facts are important because they do give concrete details about the past, such as names, dates, places, and events. However, what is more crucial is how all these things give legitimacy to historical interpretations, and it is those interpretations, the why and the how, that explain why I think history class is actually more important than you may realize.
Remembering facts for the sake of having them in your mind: while it may be occasionally useful to know the who, when, and where, outside of history class, that kind of knowledge is not all that valuable. What is valuable though, are the skills that come from interpreting events. The why and how type questions. Taking historical events, like “the Defenestrations of Prague” or “the Banana Wars,” and trying to find the motivations behind them with sources from the past is the kind of process that lots of jobs require. Now, it is not exactly for those types of events, but just the general skill of trying to understand how and why something may have happened is incredibly important. Political science applies the why and how to political situations, like the rise of Donald Trump; sociology asks the how and why for social questions; and even business is all about how to be successful and why you may not have been. History, in its own right, applies these two questions to understanding the past. Developing those analytical skills in a history class can most likely carry over to other classes and to other aspects of your life. What I am saying is that history can allow you to advance your critical thinking abilities more than you may realize.
Having said that, don’t discount history class just yet, and frankly, if you have stuck around this long, chances are you have got at least some interest in history. Facts can be boring, but the thing about history is that it encompasses the entirety of knowledge created by humans, so there is almost assuredly something that will retain your attention. On top of that, the basic skills of determining the how and why that you practice in history will help to carry you far in life. If you have the option to take a history class, I would highly recommend it and luckily, John Abbott has many fantastic history courses to offer.
Picture Source: Pixabay
Originally published in Bandersnatch Vol. 47 Issue 05 on November 8, 2017