We all remember those classes that we hated kids. For some of us it was math, for others it was the endless, pointless literature classes. Some of us just couldn’t find any joy in dissecting frogs, while others of us thought the most boring thing in the world was the history lecture. In the 10 years between 2017 and 2027, experts estimate that there will be a 13% growth in the number of STEM-related jobs available. This is great, and it is especially important that more women are gaining interest in pursuing degrees in science, engineering, and mathematics. But as these science courses and math lectures get all the attention, is there a place left for the study of history? History and other traditional fields of liberal arts study are increasingly neglected these days, but there are some really good reasons why you should be interested in attending that history lecture.
- History gives you a sense of identity. It is largely graduates of the STEM majors are making a fortune getting people to take DNA tests to find out where they come from. People all want to know where they come from and feel a sense of identity and connection to the past. You know some of the stories of your own personal family, but what do you know of your larger family? The country in which you have grown up, and the countries that your people migrated from decades, centuries, and even millennia ago? History courses can provide answers to these enduring human questions.
- History preserves our stories. Hollywood has made some fun movies “based on” historical events, Greek mythology, and other things connected to the past. But those retellings of ancient stories and ideas are too often based on modern ways of looking at the world. The history lecture gives you the opportunity to hear those ancient stories from their own perspective. A good history teacher knows not to put him or herself or modern cultural ideas onto the records of the past.
- History helps you understand the society around you. You were born into a particular society and that society had certain features, ways of looking at the world, and priorities that you may or may not find yourself sharing as you grow older. Where did these things come from? Only history can give you the answer, and only by understanding this question can you really begin to understand the world around you.
- History gives you a more sophisticated perspective. Change is inevitable. All societies change, all nations change, and even individual people change over the course of a lifetime. The history lecture can give you a far more sophisticated understanding of major changes and what brought them about. Something we think we all know about, like World War II, is not so simple as just “the Nazis were really bad.” There were a series of events, many of which seemed insignificant at the moment, which all worked together over the course of the centuries and led up to that great conflict. In many ways, the Nazis, many of whom were unquestionably evil, were as much victims of their own times and the tidal flow of societal change as was anyone else.
- History helps you to understand people. Understanding mathematics is great. Understanding the sciences, the world around us, the universe: all of this is very important. But only history can really help you understand people better. While certain sciences can help you to understand how people function and even some of what motivates them, only in the history lecture will you learn about what shapes them and how the suffering, joy, failures, triumphs and even banalities of life work together to change and direct people and produce the world in which we now live.
Some people will always find history boring, though sometimes that’s more a matter of who’s teaching it than of what is being taught; but there’s a strong possibility you may find history boring simply because you haven’t considered what it can do for you. Why not sign up for a history lecture today and find out what there is to learn about yourself and the world around you.