Why Study History Analysis

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History is currently a widely studied subject among many American educational programs. However, doubts has risen over the practicality of such a course, suggesting that other subjects such as engineering and medicine is more useful in everyday life. Authors William H. McNeill and Peter N. Stearns argues otherwise in their similarly named articles, Why Study History. In these writings, they addressed the importance of studying history both on a personal and global level, demonstrating how the collective memory of a population provides it a higher understanding of their societal values. This allows for more efficient problem-solving in the future, as the past is being served as a reference. They also stated that the various skills one develops…show more content…
McNeil has stated that history “is no more and no less than carefully and critically constructed collective memory” (McNeil, Pg.1). He compares the “collective memory” with one of an individual, losing which erases their experiences, leaving them helpless in the face of new problems. He argues that this is the same for collective memory, the loss of which through the lack of studying history can deprive a population of its most valuable guides during newly-risen conflicts. McNeill declares that “ the changing perspectives of historical understanding are the very best introduction we can have to the practical problems of real life” (McNeil, Pg.2-3), explaining that understanding the past in different ways helps us efficiently travel along in this flexible world, providing us with more knowledge of the human kind. Stearns also suggests that history is what gives a population their identity, stating that “ Merely defining the group in the present pales against the possibility of forming an identity based on a rich past.”(Stearn, Pg.3). Traditions from their pasts is what provides distinction between various cultures around the globe, and being well immersed in them demonstrates an individual’s loyalty and good citizenship. Furthermore, Stearns claims that these “identities” provide mankind with a “database” of itself, providing better…show more content…
McNeill mainly stresses about the relevancy of history from an academic viewpoint, focusing on which parts belong in the classroom and how they benefit an individual. On the other hand, Stearns views historical knowledge from an artistic angle, stating that “History as art and entertainment serves a real purpose, on aesthetic grounds but also on the level of human understanding.” (Stearns, Pg.2) He focuses on how studying history can help someone understand the beauty of society and morality, but agrees with McNeill in that it is also crucial as a source for the future. Furthermore, Stearns explains that the skills one develop when studying history will also benefit them in a broad branch of studies. The ability to efficiently assess different evidence and form an argument, for example, is important in many fields other than history itself. Ultimately, the purpose of studying history is to gain knowledge and experiences that forms “ that elusive creature, the well informed citizen.” (Stearn, Pg.5) With historical knowledge itself, an individual is well immersed in their own culture and identity, and able to understand the values of the current society. When confronted with future conflicts, they use what they know as a guide to efficiently discover the solution. The skills they pick up throughout this process is also greatly beneficial in many other aspects of
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