Why study History?

by Sara

Good question that can be answered by many ancient historians, although many critics would say it all happened a long time ago so why rake up the past? Others would perhaps say who cares about the past I'm too busy living my own life!

The Spanish philosopher George Santayana quoted "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfil it".

If you stop and think for a moment you will realise why history is so important in our lives and society:

  • We can always hope to learn from past mistakes.
  • We can understand ourselves better if we understand the past.
  • We may appreciate our own circumstances as a nation or people by understanding the past.
  • We can improve our core skills in communicating, problem solving, evaluating and analysing.
  • The pursuit of historical events and people is fun - a form of time travel.
  • History helps you understand the origins of modern political and social problems.
  • The importance of history is the importance of understanding yourself.

The key skills that students will need if they wish to study history are:

  • Communication. (verbal and written)
  • Analytical skills.
  • Use of information technology.
  • Numeracy/application of numbers.

Students who study history will be expected to do a lot of independent work and independent thinking as well as a good deal of reading and writing. The ability to persuade through reasoned argument is invaluable in many areas of life.

The study of history creates good business people, professionals and political leaders. Most people who study history do not become professional historians but find that their experience is directly relevant to jobs in a variety of careers as well as to further study in fields like law or public administration. Historical study is unquestionably an asset for a variety of work and professional situations, even though it does not, for most students, lead as directly to a particular job slot, as some technical fields do. But history particularly prepares students for the long haul in their careers, its qualities helping adaptation and advancement beyond entry-level employment.