To understand the present, and plan for the future, we need to understand where we’ve come from. Understanding past societies and civilisations is important in terms of assessing present society. In order to develop this understanding, studying history as a subject is vital.
There is a history to every topic and element of the world, such as gender, society, medicine, music, art, war, and law. Everything that we now possess has origins. Here are some of the reasons why the study of history is still relevant.
The only way to develop as a society is to understand what you wish to see changed, and to do this we must study trends and data. All data is history. Our society is shaped by the folly of our pasts, and we learn and adapt through this.
To ensure that events don’t repeat themselves
‘Those who do not understand the past are condemned to repeat it.’ This cliché and its synonyms have been said many times, yet it has been shown time and again. We need to see what has happened and learn from it.
Understanding how people previously behaved and lived
History can be good for its own sake. Understanding the past allows us to sympathise with other cultures even now. But to understand where we came from, and what we overcame to reach this point, is something amazing in its own right.
Creates a sense of identity
Many people have sought their heritage out. Knowing that, as a Thatcher, your bloodline goes back to roofers, or that as a Smith you come from metalworkers. It helps us understand who would have lived and how.
Frames present day issues
Studying current affairs, it can be hard to understand what is happening and why. But, when you understand history, the political-social factors can be tracked back and we can learn the origins of modern matters.
Many places have a proud history, and it helps them to know their proud history (St Patrick’s/St George’s/St Valentine’s day, 4th of July, Armistice day etc.) Also, much fiction would be impossible without historical basis. Most fantasy is inspired by medieval Europe, and Harry Potter takes inspiration from historical myths about magic.
We learn to research, analyse sources, balance opinions and writings, and we can become more empathetic. We learn to form our own opinions but also be willing to change in the face of evidence.
History is fun
Studying history for its own sake is perfectly valid. It’s relevance can simply come from enjoyment.
There is a form of history for everyone
People can study whichever eras and elements interest them: social history or war, crusades or renaissance. These can help us develop in our own fields or in our personal lives.