One of my pet peeves is how history is often taught. First off, history is about people and what happened, which is often rather exciting, not about dates. If you don't believe me that history can be exciting, just look at the #1 source for inspiration for video games (at least #1 when it comes to school subjects). Most strategy games are based on history and most others include history in their games (even if not our history *nods at Final Fantasy*).
My other gripe though is that history is broken into sections. While I certainly admit the world has gone through major events and that sections can be helpful, so often I see history learned entirely as those sections. Time is a flow. History flows one event into the next. If we do not teach our students the cause-and-effect relationships throughout history, how are we supposed to learn from our past mistakes (and successes)?
For example, I have a student who I am helping with history. He is studying world history from the beginning. As soon as I started to explain the cause-and-effect relationships, the history became much more clear. You have people starting off as hunters & gatherers; this caused them to move around a lot so there were not many cities. Then, people learned to farm, which allowed them to remain in one place, allowing cities to develop. Once the farming techniques were learned, there was a surplus of food, so we have the beginnings of specialization. Thus, technology begins to develop, some of which helps the production of food, which snowballs into more technology. Now, the cities are expanding and trade is developing. Soon after, people realize they need government in order to keep the peace and trades open. Now we have nations developing... and so on.
Let's start using logic for history, asking WHY things happened the way they did. Then, we can understand how civilizations have developed and failed, and moreover, why some succeeded and others failed. Only then can we appreciate the past and apply the lessons to make our future better. After all, isn't that the real reason to learn history?
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