why do we learn history in school

There is a very famous quote by George Santayana, who was a famous writer and philosopher:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. This sums up very well the reason we study history. As individuals, we cannot possibly remember all of the past, going back thousands of years in recorded history, but what we can do is learn about the past, by taking history in school, finding out what individuals and societies did in earlier times, so that we can learn from the successes and failures of that past. There are so many examples of how history can help us this way. P For example, as we discover how various societies have been governed, with kings or queens or dictators, we learn what kind of governments have and have not worked. P We have learned that pure socialism and communism have not been effective means of government, creating more problems in society than they solved. We learn what happens to a country in a dictatorship. P We learn what happens if a country is a democracy. P All of these are lessons we learn from history, lessons that help us to make good choices. We learn by studying the history of economic systems what has and has not worked. P By studying command economies and capitalistic economies, we learn from the mistakes different kinds of economies yield. For example, command economies usually result in shortages of goods and services, and unregulated capitalism results in socioeconomic instabilities.


P By studying history, we learn about the necessity of war and the foolishness of war. Some nations began wars to their great regret, while we conclude that other nations have entered into war for reasons that seemed good and just. P The more we learn about the history of war, the more intelligent decisions we can make about it. P When we study everyday people in history, we learn a great deal about how people have and have not changed. P We know that people thousands of years ago struggled in their lives, were frightened in battle, and loved their children. P But we learn also how far we have come since early times, how much easier our lives are today. P These are valuable lessons for all of us, what we cannot change about being human beings, and what we can change as well. History is the collective wisdom of the ages. P If we do not know it and understand it, each of us is starting all over again, without the advantage of knowing what has gone before. P It would be like being a child who had no parents to teach it how to walk, what to eat, or what is of danger. Without learning history, we are all parentless children! P If you are hungry for finding out about the past, History may be the subject for you. If you still need some persuading, why not look at this list of reasons to study History: 1. Transferable skills Studying History provides a student with skills which are not confined to the study of the past.


Skills of analysis are invaluable in many jobs, and the ability to analyse and then prioritise information is vital to decision making. This not only provides a skill set for a student but it also keeps career options open. P 2. History is relevant There is a stigma attached to History that it is based entirely in the distant past, but this does not account for the huge amount of modern history which is studied in such depth. In order to make sense of current affairs it is important to study the past, as everything which is happening around us has been influenced by, and is a direct result of, that which preceded it. In this way, the study of History is explicitly relevant to us. P 3. A History degree is an investment in your future If studied at an esteemed university, a degree in History can be an impressive and attractive feature on a CV. As seen on our History Subject Table, Graduate Prospects in the Top 10 UK universities for History are generally high. P Check out our 4. Combined CoursesP Like many degrees, History can be easily combined with a number of other subjects. From HistoryPand Mathematics, to History and MusicPand even HistoryPand Chinese, the range of joint honours available is seemingly endless. P Use ourP to find joint degrees 5. A degree in History encourages independenceP A degree in History endorses independence in young people. The typically few contact hours offered by a History degree enable students to lead their own inquiries into the past, while still offering the reassurance of a lecturer who can support and help develop potential theories or lines of thought.


Knowledge is not just handed over at degree level; it requires hard work, and in a subject dominated by reading, students will develop self-sufficiency and become less dependent pupils. P 6. Studying History provides cultural awareness By looking at the history of different cultures, a History student can build up a better understanding of why certain peoples act the way they do. Looking at the history of the USA we can see why race tensions continued on past the abolition of slavery and arguably remain today. In reading the history of India we can see why the Caste system still remains in the subcontinent. By studying at the various tributaries of humanity, a broad cultural awareness is yours for the taking. 7. A History degree allows us to learn from the past If you are to look at human history there are particular patterns which tend to repeat themselves. Whether it is the role of charismatic dictators like Caesar through to Hitler, or the significance of Religion in human conflict, humans have an astounding habit of ignoring the obvious contributing factors which can lead to war and oppression. It is then the job of the Historian to identify where we have been going wrong, comment on it, and attempt to avoid it in the future. Next page:

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