Huh, Ever Wonder Why…
Ever wonder how your smartphone works? Scratch your head why there is so much deadlock between politicians? Don’t understand why there is so much traffic on the roads? Why is football called soccer in America? Why reality shows are fake, but we think they are real?
Everything in our lives, from the mundane to the magnificent, is tied to history. All the other subjects in school are tied to history. History tells us about the why and how of the world around us, from our local neighborhood to international diplomacy. It provides us a timeline on how languages develop, why we can send satellites to the far reaches of the solar system, and why math is part of our daily life. Look at the latest Google search results for “why history matters;” over 106 million hits! Society sees the importance of it, but sometimes it’s challenging to make the connections.
History as an Academic Exercise for Our Minds
Not only does the study of history tell us about the world we live in, but also helps us intellectually grow, no matter the subject area. In history, we become better readers and writers, it develops our critical thinking and problem-solving ability, allows us to see how things are related to one another, learn new perspectives and points of view. In sum, it introduces us to what we don’t know. It allows us to explore, understand, and shape our lives. We can interact with what is around us, to see where we came from and what can be.
Determining the Shape of Things to Come
History provides us a preview of what the world may become by examining the historical patterns from the past to the present. When I think about history, one of my favorite books comes to mind, H.G. Wells’s The Shape of Things to Come. This work by Wells is lesser known compared to say War of the Worlds (1898). The Shape of Things to Come was published in 1933 as the world was reeling from the Great Depression and saw the rise of totalitarian regimes in Europe and Asia. Part fiction, part history, this book explores what the world may have become beyond 1930. A little too eerily similar to what actually happened in World War II and afterward, this fictional “history” illustrates to us why history matters. History foreshadows what may to come and how it may occur. By studying patterns, themes, ideas, and actions of the past, it creates a blueprint for what is going on now and what is still to come.
This Is Why History Matters
This, to me, is why history matters. There are two parts to the importance of this subject. History as a story of humanity and the world, and history as means to academically grow and develop ourselves. This development does not only occur within the subject area itself, but more importantly, interconnects with all other subjects. History is an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary pursuit.
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Wells, H.G. (1933/2005). The shape of things to come. New York: Penguin.
Wells, H.G. (1898). War of the worlds. London: Heinemann.