An Ode to History Class | Sarah Stook
I loved history at school. Along with English, it was my favourite subject. GCSE, A-Level and even a year-long elective course at university.
I still remember a lot of what was taught, even from early GCSE years. There’s something magical about being gripped by the past, especially when you are lucky to have great teachers- something I was blessed with. Even the duller aspects of the past can be made fun by storytelling and discussion by a teacher who knows their stuff.
It is my firm belief that history should be a firm part of every child and teenager’s education. Though it may not be as practical as maths or as universal as English, it is a subject that is hugely important.
We cannot learn properly if we do not look to our past. History goes back further than we imagine. There are ancient civilisations who invented the things we use today and built beautiful buildings we flock to. Monarchs and their marriages have affected how safe the world was in an age of altar diplomacy. Wars have killed millions and shaped borders. Old texts continue teaching us today. A lone person can have more impact than an entire army.
It doesn’t need to be dull. History can be told by stories, both true and fiction, by explanations and by films. Many readers will agree that maths was always a yawn, but history doesn’t need to be.
We need to expand what we know about our past- and not just British history. Our world and past is rich with knowledge. My favourite parts of history were at A-Level, when I learned about the Middle East’s recent history and civil rights in the USA. It’s amazing that we have a world we can learn about. Equally, our British history is rich. Whether it’s those wacky Tudors, numerous wars, the Industrial Revolution or the Dark Ages, there are so many fabulous figures and facts.
At a minimum, children should know about WW1, WW2, monarchs, important Prime Ministers and events that shaped our nation. That’s only a minimum – it needs to be wider and more global. We can learn about our victories and our errors equally.
It should go beyond the classroom though. We have huge historical sights and museums that take us back to almost the beginning of time. A good teacher should encourage kids to go out and learn on their own time. Films and books can be so helpful in this respect, especially for kids who struggle in the classroom. One book or film can send the person on a wonderful path that has many side roads.
Learning about civil rights in the USA ignited my passion for American politics and history as a whole. Anyone who has read my articles or follows me on Twitter knows that I am the biggest nerd about it. It’s something I’m thankful for. There are so many history niches one can enjoy. Southeast Asia, Tudors and religion are some of the historical areas that people I follow are passionate about.
Let’s get our kids to love history class. Better yet, let it spread long after they’ve left the classroom. Think of our nation and all that has happened in its long years. We live in a country where we are free to learn. We have access to the history of the world at our fingertips.
That is my ode to history class.