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Topic Summary

Posted by: shaun
« on: 29 January, 2012, 10:49:59 PM »

Learning from history is extremely important, if we do not learn from the past we will continue to repeat the same mistakes. Unfortunately, the history taught at school is very superficial and doesn't explain how we reached this point. Children learn about the methods used by the Roman army but not the class system the Roman empire was based on. We are all taught that World War 1 was started by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand but this is a completely superficial portrayal. The World War was inevitable because of the rising power of Germany, threatening the established power of England and France. The assassination was the necessity which expressed itself through accident.
Posted by: kennia
« on: 29 January, 2012, 07:06:56 AM »

I am one of those people who hates history. For the most part, children don't retain anything about history that they learn in school, at least I didn't. Even if they do it isn't very useful. Unless you plan on becoming a history teacher, historian, or something in that specific field I don't see the value in learning history. 
Posted by: altrouge
« on: 19 November, 2011, 12:50:26 AM »

I take History Class in school, and I must say that I hate it  Bang head. I believe that it's important to know of the past, in order to preserve memories of them, especially heroes. However, the kind of History we get in school goes far beyond that. You need to know almost everything, and you're not even planning to be a historian or revisionist! They are teaching far more than what we actually need. We're currently studying Ireland's journey to total Independence and it's just wrecking my nerves.

That is the case if you're learning History as a student. Historians and revisionists on the other hand have a different case. This is their passion, and they would be willing to absorb as much detail as they can get from every resource in order to deeply understand the real scenario of a particular event from the past or the person. They get to see how different we are from the past, whether we evolved in a good way in terms of thinking, decisions and actions, or even morality. They analyse these things just like how we do on English poetry and essays - finding the true cause and meaning, and that if they were living in that time, would they have done the same decisions made.

As a student this area has no value (unless you actually have interest in it), but for the latter group, it's value is just as great as how we cherish our own interests.
Posted by: KarimJessa
« on: 02 November, 2011, 04:38:51 PM »

I believe that learning history is really important, although the way it's taught in school could be much improved.

Saying that history is not important must mean that the present is also not important because today will be history tomorrow. I don't see that there can be a cut-off point where events that have taken place cease to be important and can be forgotten just because they happened a long time ago.

Who could be the judge of where that point is?

History helps us to make decisions that affect the future as we learn from past events. (Or should do).

I believe it is human nature to want to know what has happened before; only a non-thinker could possibly live life in the present and the future - neither knowing or caring about the past.



I'm becoming quite impressed with imfeduptoo's thinking. I agree with everything said in the post. I'll just add a few points of my own.

There's a difference between learning history as a school subject, and learning it out of interest. Apart from the fact that history as a school subject can be extremely boring (as most of the comments reveal) there's also the matter of focus.

When it's for school, the topics are selected by others. The questions are for the purpose of passing the exams. And, most important, the priority will be given to the history of the particular country where it is being taught. It's quite obvious that the history of some countries is vastly more interesting than that of others.

Then there's the matter of learning history as history, and looking up facts on the Internet. History is more than just the sum of facts on events and people. There's a vast area where it's more about ideas behind the events, than the events themselves.

But, of course, history at that level cannot be taught at the school level. And even the higher level history must begin with the facts, before the ideas behind the facts can be discussed. So the school level history is the drudgery; and university level history, or the studies one conducts on ones own, is the interesting part.

This is why almost all of us can remember hating history at school, and loving it in later life. When we choose to study history on our own, out of interest, we'll be selecting topics, countries, and periods which are of particular interest to us. This explains why it's so difficult to convince a school-age kid that history is interesting, or that it's useful. How can they understand this when they never get to see the interesting part?

And, finally, why exactly do we want to learn history? Along with all the reasons given in the other comments, there's the fact that it expands our consciousness. Despite the fact that we live a limited time on earth, we all think in historical terms. That is to say, the historical knowledge that we possess becomes a part of our present consciousness.

For example, if I've studied the history of philosophy, the philosophers of the past are living characters for me. What they thought is part of my thinking. Just citing the name of Plato, for instance, opens up vast areas of thought and consciousness for me. Yet, for someone who's never been exposed to his philosophy, Plato is just a name.

The deeper our awareness and knowledge of history, the greater our consciousness, and more extensive our thinking.
Posted by: C Lawliet
« on: 26 October, 2011, 01:24:25 PM »

As far as I know, for bad history to not repeat itself, history needs to be learned. What's done can never be undone so better do it in the right way from the start than to add to the history of wrong moves or mistakes. As for inspirations for successes, the famous and legendary people in the history would serve as their guide to dream and achieve something; and serve as evidence of truth that certain things can be done granting they would perform and act on things like these people.

History is really for learning to be a better person, a person filled with knowledge and wise moves.  :D
Posted by: antonymous
« on: 25 October, 2011, 11:13:59 PM »

As I reside in the States, I never learned anything about Queen Victoria but were I to live in the United Kingdom I would think that learning about Queen Victoria would be as important  as learning about the U.S. Presidents is important for a child in my country.
Not really - Queen Victoria's  main contribution to British history was to reign for 64 years as a nominal Head of State without any real power whereas Presidents of the USA are the Chief Executives of the Federal Republic, and Commanders in Chief of the armed forces with real power. As such they, by their actions, contribute far more to the history of the USA than any modern British sovereign since the German George, I who couldnt even speak English!
However studying that period covered by Victoria's reign and all the important events and  discoveries that took place is important.
A small point but important.
Posted by: whiteheron
« on: 25 October, 2011, 08:33:36 PM »

It is funny that you ask whether learning history has any value. I had a conversation with one of my young clients yesterday regarding this very subject as he loved mathematics and science but hated and was flunking world history and did not want to do his project on Mesopotamia.

As I reside in the States, I never learned anything about Queen Victoria but were I to live in the United Kingdom I would think that learning about Queen Victoria would be as important  as learning about the U.S. Presidents is important for a child in my country.

In telling my young client about the need to study history I did use the very famous quote by Edmund Burke: "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." And then I told him that if he looks at history he will notice that everything that is happening today has its roots in the past and that the people of yesterday still directly influence today. "We do keep on repeating history over and over again... when you learn your history you will understand this and have more wisdom with which to live your life well."

I suggested to him that he change his perspective a bit and decide to  decide to like history instead of fighting it as fighting it would only result in a bad grade for him. I asked him to act as if he liked the subject and to see if he could eventually even feel passion for it like he did for his other studies... and then told him to use the internet and do net research to make the subject more interesting to him as evidently his teacher has not engaged his interest enough to make the subject interesting. I asked him to not only learn about the history of the people of Mesopotamia but to learn his own family's history and to ask questions of his parents and grandparents so that he will have that family history.
 
My client promised me that he would do these things. Today, I am doing internet research on the Mesopotamia as I promised my client that I would. I am finding it to be exciting.

I am hoping that my sharing of this interaction in part answers your question and also that it helps you in dealing with others who do not value history or believe that it should be studied.


Posted by: sashapisan
« on: 25 October, 2011, 09:43:16 AM »

History might be a boring subject for some. But my stand is very simple, studying history will help you understand the other countries diverse cultures, belief system and government strategies. In the later part, you are less judgmental t to people on which you cannot agree with. In other words Being open-minded person  can reduce conflicts yet your opinions promote fair judgment and world peace.
Posted by: Amy
« on: 24 October, 2011, 08:01:01 PM »

I believe that history should be taught in elementary school.  After that, it should be optional.  I covered the same history in elementary school, high school and college.  That is ridiculous.  I also had to take the same math classes in high school and college, even though I majored in math and had college-entry courses in high school.  I would have enjoyed high school much more if I had been given more options and less repetition.  In high school, students should have more control over what they take.  I believe this would reduce the drop-out rate.  If kids are enjoying what they are studying, they may be more inclined to stick with school. 
Posted by: criticalthinking
« on: 24 October, 2011, 03:27:35 AM »

I think learning history can be good/fun and all that, the problem is that most school systems (regardless of where you are in the world) tend to teach it to young kids in a format of a list of facts they need to memorize. There is very little in terms of stories, cultures and so on. Most of the time we like history in our adulthood because we understand what happened in those times and why and so on. I too hated it as a child except for 2 years in a  school where the history curriculum was taught by doing projects. Most of the time it was about trying to find out what your town/family etc was doing during a major world/local historical events/periods. It was easier to learn about things when you could find a way to relate to them. And taking a history related course in college you could see the very different approach on how children and young adults/adults are usually taught history.

I totally agree. History can be incredibly interesting, but not if you're simply forced to memorize dates and names. Children should be learning history for the context, so they can see the way sociaties change over time, and put their own transient culture into perspective. Memorizing a pile of dates does nothing to further that goal.
Posted by: Charliegirl
« on: 18 October, 2011, 04:36:12 AM »

I believe that everyone should have a healthy knowledge of the past. We, as humans, are repetitive in nature and have a tendency to learn by making mistakes. History shows us a multitude of mistakes so that future generations can learn from them. Failing to learn from our history dooms us to repeating those same errors in judgements.

A prime example is what is going on in the world now. Attempts a globalism in one form or another have been tried before. World leaders have forgotten their history and are now repeating upgraded versions of the past.

I also believe that children need to be taught how to search for answers and to not be afraid to ask questions. I believe that learning facts by rote is a detriment because they lose their meaning in boredom. Engage a child and the child will seek that which you are trying to teach.
Posted by: seacommander
« on: 22 September, 2011, 09:50:31 AM »

Firstly, I have little or no idea about how history is taught in schools nowadays. My boys left school a long time ago, but I do remember that their history schooling was far more research based than mine - so they were taught not just facts but the skills to research facts. As a race, humans still fall far short of learning from mistakes, however, without history, an appreciation of history and the ability to research history we would stand absolutely no chance of ever being able to rectify this major failing.

On a personal note I found history at school to be tedious because it was more a case of memorising facts than research based. It was also very politically based and I must admit I came away from school probably still thinking that the Victorians used bows and arrows, spears, slings etc to fight with, odd shaped pieces of wood to cultivate the land with and pieces of flint to use as cutting tools. In other words, we were taught very little about the tremendous technological advances that took place. For example, the mind boggles at the complexity of things such as weaving machines in the cotton mills. They were a blend of mechanical genius and to my mind an artform.

One form of learning about our past that has fired my enthusiasm is the staging of reenactments. I have been to 1940s WWII and Tudor events which have all been great fun and an enjoyable and fascinating way of learning about some aspects of our past.

In short, yes I think teaching history is important since it enables us to put into context how we live today and perhaps appreciate more fully the privileges we enjoy eg the right to vote. How history, and indeed other subjects, are taught is another matter. I strongly believe that giving people the skills to research facts is hugely important and should be an integral part of all tuition.
Posted by: Arellia
« on: 22 September, 2011, 08:59:50 AM »

I think learning history can be good/fun and all that, the problem is that most school systems (regardless of where you are in the world) tend to teach it to young kids in a format of a list of facts they need to memorize. There is very little in terms of stories, cultures and so on. Most of the time we like history in our adulthood because we understand what happened in those times and why and so on. I too hated it as a child except for 2 years in a  school where the history curriculum was taught by doing projects. Most of the time it was about trying to find out what your town/family etc was doing during a major world/local historical events/periods. It was easier to learn about things when you could find a way to relate to them. And taking a history related course in college you could see the very different approach on how children and young adults/adults are usually taught history.
Posted by: walter
« on: 21 September, 2011, 09:23:15 AM »

I really enjoyed history in school. Some of my fondest school memories are of history lessons, both in primary and secondary school. In primary school the highlight was a history project on The Normans, which resulted in us producing our own Bayeux Tapestry. Twenty years later I visited the real Bayeux Tapestry which was great. Well worth a visit.

 In secondary school one particular history lesson will never be forgotton. We were doing a case study of the assassination of American President JFK and watched the Zapruder footage of the killing. It was the first time I had seen the film and remember having problems sleeping for the next few nights. The case study itself was really fascinating and I think our history teacher was a bit of a maverick for trying to tackle such a complex incident.

So to answer the question, I would not hestitate to say there is great value in learning about history. The historian Simon Schama wrote a great piece about this and I agree with his sentiments:
 http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/nov/09/future-history-schools
Posted by: imfeduptoo
« on: 20 September, 2011, 04:55:18 PM »

I believe that learning history is really important, although the way it's taught in school could be much improved.

Saying that history is not important must mean that the present is also not important because today will be history tomorrow. I don't see that there can be a cut-off point where events that have taken place cease to be important and can be forgotten just because they happened a long time ago.

Who could be the judge of where that point is?

All the technology we have now was discovered in history, all the knowledge we have amassed happened in history, and the understanding of how humans behave happened in history.

History helps us to make decisions that affect the future as we learn from past events. (Or should do).

As Cicero said - "Not to know what happened before one born is always to remain a child".
http://www.giga-usa.com/quotes/topics/history_t002.htm

I believe it is human nature to want to know what has happened before; only a non-thinker could possibly live life in the present and the future - neither knowing or caring about the past.

We would be doing our young people a serious disservice to deprive them of the chance to learn about events that have happened in the past.

Most children like to read about/watch, the tales of Robin Hood, King Arthur and Dick Turpin, which may be largely mythological, nevertheless are set in historical times, so it isn't the idea of history that's not interesting to them. With these characters they don't have to learn dates of particular events, reigns or battles etc, they can just enjoy the stories.

So to keep children interested in history, it would be beneficial to do away with the learning of dates, except perhaps on a broad scale, and let them just enjoy learning about the exciting things that happened in historical times.

I don't mean this to be a rascist comment, so I hope no-one takes it as one,  but I wonder if part of the reason for considering not teaching history could be that classrooms now, in this multicultural country, hold many pupils who would have no interest in the history of England.
So, in that case, teach World history.
And make it interesting and fun - maybe not even have examinations in the subject so that it doesn't matter that no-one can remember the dates, but it would be a mad idea to stop teaching it. IMO.