Why history is not a popular subject for many students

Many students do not look forward to history class, and consider it to be a boring, trite subject. There may be some justification for this: the way history is often taught it is presented as an endless list of dates, names, and events to be memorized and regurgitated on demand. But history can be a fascinating and absorbing subject, one that can hold students' attention way beyond class time. History contains the entire spectrum of human experience, one in which personalities, political agendas, national policies, ambitions, romantic entanglements, religious beliefs and biases, and myriad other factors play important roles in the unfolding of events and the course of national fortunes. Historical themes have provided a steady and popular genre for historians, playwrights, poets, and filmmakers throughout the centuries. From Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey" to Plutarch's "Lives," to Claudius, Shakespeare, Churchill, DeMille, Ryan, Schlesinger and Spielberg, history has provided stories that keep us engaged and fascinated, by providing page-turning suspense that many novelists would envy.

Teachers who would keep their students' attention and engage their interest in the material would do well to familiarize themselves with the tales behind the names, dates and unadorned facts that provide just a bare outline for the substance of the story, the tapestry and richness with which to hold their students' attention, and inspire them to additional exploration beyond the classroom. Unfortunately, it is often poorly informed and marginally engaged teachers that present history as a roll call of only tangentially related facts, rather than the rich broth that history really can be for even the casual student.


George C.

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