Why study History?
Everything has a history; we do, our family does, so does art, music, science, architecture, literature, space travel, medicine, warfare, cosmetics, romance, the ballpoint pen, cooking etc. Studying history is not simply a matter of learning about the past but about a great deal of hidden learning in terms of acquiring skills highly relevant to the work place and, particularly, university.
Critical skills developed include: analytical, interpretive, research techniques, communicative, deductive, questioning, investigative, along with an understanding of cause and effect, motivational factors and the concept of change e.g. both revolutionary and by reform, who controls and resists change etc. In fact the good historian has to become an astute detective! It is regarded as one of the best preparations for the academic nature of and disciplines required for university studies. Above all it is not only about dates and lists of dead Kings and Queens, it is fundamentally about people, people little different from ourselves. It is a study of how and why they did things and what we can personally learn from their actions and responses and how we can apply these lessons to our own lives, work and family situations.
You learn to detect bias, prejudice and to walk in the shoes and see through the eyes of people from other cultures that are radically different to ours; you get to study how they observe our own culture. You look at the myths that are part of every country’s history and come to understand how these came into being. In addition, any movie or TV programme that involves the past will need historians involved to get all the historical details and background correct – Hollywood is very bad at this, while the BBC is quite brilliant at it!
In its purest form history is about the pursuit of truth and wisdom and acts as a nation’s conscience. As a result it can be an explosive subject and many countries have suppressed and continue to suppress historical truth and shape history to fit in with the version they what their people to believe in e.g. this happened in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia.
Undoubtedly the past determines what is happening in New Zealand now and will hugely shape the future. In essence history adds greater depth to our understanding of the Bible in terms of its historical context and importance and its study confirms the Biblical nature of humankind. In the end History is His Story (the story of God’s interaction with his Creation).
History Is Useful in the World of Work
The study of History helps create good; administrators, managers, researchers, business people, professionals, and political leaders. The number of explicit professional jobs for historians is considerable, but most people who study history do not become professional historians. Professional historians teach at various levels, work in museums and media centres, do historical research for businesses or public agencies, or participate in the growing number of historical consultancies. These categories are important—indeed vital—to keep the basic enterprise of history going, but most people who study history use their training for broader professional purposes.
Students of history find their experience directly relevant to jobs in a variety of careers, as well as, to further study in fields like law and public administration. Employers often deliberately seek students with the kinds of capacities historical study promotes. The reasons are not hard to identify: students of history acquire, by studying different phases of the past and different societies in the past, a broad perspective that gives them the range and flexibility required in many work situations. They develop research skills, the ability to find and evaluate sources of information, and the means to identify and evaluate diverse interpretations. Work in history, also, improves basic writing and speaking skills and is directly relevant to many of the analytical requirements in the public and private sectors, where the capacity to identify, assess, and explain trends is essential. 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 do some technical fields. Nevertheless, history particularly prepares students for the long haul in their careers, its qualities helping adaptation and advancement beyond entry-level employment. There is no denying that in our society many people who are drawn to historical study worry about its relevance. In our changing economy, there is concern about job futures in most fields. Historical training is not, however, an indulgence; it applies directly to many careers and can clearly help us in our working lives.
Degrees where a background in History would be useful
Accounts Language Studies
Administration (public, company) Law (criminal, civil, commercial, international)
Advertising and Media Studies Leadership Studies
Archival Studies Management (personnel, general, financial, project)
Art Marketing and Sales
Broadcasting Museum Studies
Business Studies Music
Career Studies Organisational and Global Systems
Classics Oriental Studies
Commerce Peace Studies
Communication Studies Philosophy
Conflict Resolution Policy Studies and Analysis
Consumer Sciences Predictive History
Cryptology Principles and Practices of Fundraising
Cultural Studies Psychology
Development Studies (social, community, international) Public Relations
Diplomacy Religious studies (divinity, theology, missiology)
Economics Research and Analytical Studies
Education Social Work
English (weighted heavily in favour of literature) Sociology
Ethics Strategic Thinking and Planning
Fine Art, Art History etc. Theatre, Cinema and Film Studies
Gender Studies Trading Relations and Investment Management
Indigenous Studies Writing (creative, expository etc.)
International Relations …. to name but a few!
“History should be studied because it is essential to individuals and to society, and because it harbours beauty.”
Peter N. Stearns, “Why Study History?” (1998)
To read more follow this link: http://www.historians.org/pubs/free/whystudyhistory.htm
If that was all a little too heavy then what follows may bring some light but serious relief! Laugh and learn!
Ever had that sinking feeling? Then hope you never meet a crew like this one. Click on the image to find out why.