Why is it Important to Study History? History is one of the most important academic pursuits of any child’s education. Here, we outline the importance of learning history and reveal study tips for pupils.
We all live in the present and we plan for the future – but how do we understand where we’re going and what progress looks like? To know exactly where you’re going, you first need to understand where you have come from. For that you need an appreciation of history.
History is one of the most respected and most valuable academic subjects your child will learn. This guide takes a deep dive into the importance of learning history at school, plus a few tips for studying it effectively.
The Benefits of Studying History
Entire societies, and the individuals within them, benefit from gaining a deeper understanding of history. Here are six benefits your child will enjoy if they study history in school.
1. Develop an Understanding of the World
Through history, we can learn how past societies, systems, ideologies, governments, cultures and technologies were built, how they operated, and how they have changed. The rich history of the world helps us to paint a detailed picture of where we stand today.
Developing your knowledge of history means developing your knowledge of all these different aspects of life. Children can learn about the pillars upon which different civilizations were built, including cultures and people different from their own.
All this knowledge makes them more rounded people who are better prepared to learn in all their academic subjects.
2. Become a More Rounded Person
History is full of stories. Some are inspiring and uplifting; others are chaotic and immoral. Tap into the vivid realm of history, and there are many vital lessons your child needs to learn. They will study times of suffering and times of joy, and the lessons they learn here can then be applied to their own life experience.
History also encourages a deeper understanding of difference. There are lessons, both good and bad, to be learned from the way our ancestors have interacted with other people who have different ways of living. In a modern world where inclusivity is embraced no matter your background, an understanding of how past societies have integrated is key to humanity improving in the future.
3. Understand Identity
Nations are made up of a collection of stories and legends. These stories shape the way we think about our country and our standing within it. History is where we learn about how great institutions are formed, and how they’ve contributed to where we are today.
For many of us, looking back at incredible fellow countrymen is a way of establishing our own identity. Finding who we are and what mark we can make on the world is a huge part of childhood. Allowing children to learn about the identity of their country is one way of facilitating that.
4. Become Inspired
Those historical stories can also serve to inspire individuals to greatness. History remembers brilliant people and their heroic acts that have changed the shape of nations. You get a huge amount of motivation from learning about the inspirational events that make up where we are today.
It only takes one great story from the pages of history to light up children’s imagination and spur them on to do great things.
5. Learn from Mistakes
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana’s quote is one of academia’s most cited and paraphrased lines, and one that explains perfectly why everyone should study history. The past is filled with warning signs. We must be able to reflect on the events that built up to them, learn from mistakes made and resist and question if we see similar patterns emerging.
If your child studies history, they will be able to identify when society is going down perilous routes and contribute towards getting it back on track.
6. Develop Transferrable Skills
History is a respected academic pursuit that challenges our intellect. Students must analyse information that may not have one clear interpretation before offering a balanced conclusion. Critical thought is at the heart of every challenging intellectual pursuit.
The ability to question and evaluate information is one that applies to workplaces in many industries, and Nord Anglia Education strive to provide the necessary transferrable skills to all our students. History is one of the best subjects for stimulating and developing this ability.
How to Study History
History is not about memorising a list of facts or dates. It requires interpretation and analysis of information around subjects which often have no right or wrong answers. Still, there are plenty of effective methods for studying history, like these three:
1. Connect Events Together
History is shaped by a list of chronological events. When studying seismic shifts in a culture or country, it’s important that you know what key events contributed to this and why they were so important. It can lead to a daunting list of times, dates and people to learn.
One popular method for doing this involves making connections to develop the full picture. With your child, note down the different events, facts and people that played a role in a significant historical event. Then create a mind map that connects each part of the picture, using colours and symbols to establish a pattern containing a large amount of easily digestible information.
2. Display Key Information
With so much to learn, it’s important that you’re able to focus in on the most valuable information and retain it for exams. While history usually focuses on the larger picture rather than just a succession of dates or facts, it can also be worthwhile adopting memory techniques to ensure that your child can reach for specific information if they need it.
Flashcards are an excellent way to do this. Write a brief fact or statement on one side of a card. Stick them around your child’s room, allowing them to ingest that piece of information every single day. Before long, they’ll be able to recite the information on each card.
3. Soak up Books and Films
History is packed with incredible, real-life stories – many of which are told for a new generation in the form of novels and films. When your child has finished studying their textbooks, films and books offer a lighter, but still useful, way to learn about history.
Just be sure to choose the right titles. Many books and films take liberties with their chosen subject. Speak to your child’s history teacher for a reading and viewing list that’s tied into their curriculum.
Studying history will provide your child with a more rounded academic skillset and an improved ability to think critically – something they can take into the rest of their education. To see how Nord Anglia Education delivers our outstanding history curriculum, find your nearest school.