What is the value of studying history?
Studying history is embedded in our society; there are countless museums, castles, and heritage sites around the country, Michael Gove has said that “we will ensure that every child has a proper sense of the connected narrative of British history” proposing that history be a compulsory subject for all secondary school children. This must imply that there is a value to studying history. This is a wide question that could cover anything from the monetary value of studying history to the impact it has on present day trends and fashion. I will briefly talk about three of the values that studying history gives, these will be the skills that the subject teaches people, the decisions people can make with the skills gained and how studying history can create social identity.
History as a subject teaches not only the stories of the past but unlike other subjects it aims to teach people how to critically evaluate sources, analyse them and create interpretations based upon those evaluations. This is done every day by people who read the newspaper and create an opinion based on the article. The historically trained will be able to question several things about the article before creating the interpretation, having a deeper critical view on the piece itself, for example, is it written with an agenda in mind? Can the sources used be thought of as reliable, or even relevant? If it claims to be news, how much is actually opinion? But what is the value of this skill, other than being able to criticize journalists?
It can be argued that scientists must also learn how to evaluate sources of data, create a critical evaluation and a hypothesis based upon those sources. It is also argued that scientists are to be of more value than historians in our society, so the opinion that there is a value to studying history must be questioned. The scientific method however will only allow for the relevant interpretation of certain sources, a newspaper...