Many students ask why History is important to an English student. History is essential to our learning, because it helps us understand how our past has shaped worldwide events and continues to do so between societies around the world. When we study both languages together, we “reunite two fields of learning (stories written in the past and the story of the past itself) that should never have been pulled apart.” (Bauer, 2016) We all live in the present moment, and we plan for the future, but before we can know exactly where we’re going, we need to understand where we came from. Only then, can we have an appreciation of history. Let’s examine a few reasons why history is so crucial in our lives and how it resonates with students specifically.
History Teaches Us About the Present
Historians use a wide range of resources to show a timeline of events in specific periods of time, why these events occurred, and how they unfolded. They typically provide facts and either argue or analyze the details surrounding an event. For example, the assassination of Archduke F. Ferdinand by a Serb provoked widespread declarations of war, and the fulfillment of treaties led to the horrendous conflict of the First World War (Pettinger, 2012). When trying to understand why an event happened like WWI, we have to look for factors that took shape prior to it. As a student, we can grasp how these changes came to be and comprehend what factors caused the event – the past causes the present, and, in turn, it changes the future.
History Provides Identity
History provides us with a sense of identity through which we can find out who we are and our impact on the world: “A large part of that is learning where you fit into the story of your country or the global community in the grand scheme of things.” (Arcadia Publishing, 2021) These stories help shape the way we think about our country and community. History also informs us about our ancestors and highlights the legacies we acquired from them. Studying individuals and societies in relation with their experience helps us appreciate ideas, traditions, and culture from specific moments in history that we can integrate into our own.
History Inspires New Generations
History is full of stories that are not only chaotic and detrimental but are also inspiring and uplifting. However, all of these stories allow us to learn vital lessons from our past that can be applied to our own life experiences. We’ve learned to embrace inclusivity in our lives, because societies in the past have learned to integrate with one another to improve our future. History has a lot of stories just waiting to be read, and, as such, we can learn a lot from the events and people that helped shape our present day. That’s inspirational.
History Provides us the Tools to be Good Citizens
In order to be a good citizen, you need to be informed, so you’ll need a working knowledge of history: “History provides data about the emergence of national institutions, problems, and values…it offers evidence also about how nations have interacted with other societies, providing international and comparative perspectives essential for responsible citizenship.” (Stearns, 1998) Here, a strong national identity is prevalent through individual and collective success.
History is a key component in our lives and is significant to understanding the human experience. Everything has a history – from the things we do to what we use that were invented long before we were born. Studying history allows us to strengthen our critical thinking skills and emerge with relevant skills of informed citizenship and simple awareness. Dive into a specific moment in history, and you’ll be intrigued by what you uncover and learn.
Arcadia Publishing (2021). Why It’s Important That We Study History. Arcadia Publishing. Retrieved March 13th, 2022 from https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Navigation/Community/Arcadia-and-THP-Blog/June-2016/Why-It%E2%80%99s-Important-That-We-Study-History
Bauer, Susan W (2016, June 24). Combining History and Literature: Why and How. Well-Trained Mind Press. Retrieved March 13th, 2022 from https://welltrainedmind.com/a/combining-history-and-literature/
Pettinger, Tevjan (2012, April 11). Events that Changed the World. Biography Online. Retrieved March 13th, 2022 from https://www.biographyonline.net/events/changed-world.html
Stearns, Peter N (1998). Why Study History? (1998). American History Association. Retrieved March 13th, 2022 from https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/historical-archives/why-study-history-(1998)