Is There Any Hope for History?

Taking on the Challenge to Change

It may seem like a difficult challenge to change the connotation of an entire subject that has been viewed negatively for so long. Will teachers and other historians be willing to shift their methodology to accommodate historical learning to people who aren’t studying the discipline?

History needs to be seen holistically in order for people to attribute their interest to the subject. Robert V. Daniels once again put it nicely in the Studying History book:

“Though it has often failed to aim this high, history should ideally bring together and synthesize all the other realms of knowledge and their various analyses. History alone has the broad compass to see the true, complex interplay of motive, cause, chance, and circumstance in human life. To the historian falls the ultimate task of showing how virtue, vice, comedy, and tragedy form the drama of human experience.”

This aspiration that Daniels speaks of is attainable if we can push for a higher level of interest and application in historical discipline. One might ask; How do we go about changing the discipline?

Historian’s Useful Set of Skills

The skillset that is developed by historians is a central piece to making history an interesting discipline. I have listed some historical skills below and defined them. The next page will discuss the implementation of these skills to make history more accessible.
  1. Effective Writing – defined as “the ability to successfully and precisely communicate one’s ideas in text (Lavender).”
    • Any profession that you can think of requires some form of writing. There is no escaping that fact. For historians, writing all of those ten page long research papers actually translates into a vital skill in today’s workforce.
  2. Critical Analysis is the ability to look deeply into an event or situation, while creating a practical set of solutions.
    • The skill of weighing the pros and cons of the situation is crucial for those interested in history. Historians can step back and see the big picture of a situation, while also being attentive to the smaller details.
  3. Inquisitiveness is the need to understand the situation. The curiosity to ask questions is needed to understand the complex situations that history presents to scholars.
    • Having this desire to learn looks very good for companies or government agencies that want to hire a person. As historians, we want to know the context of what is happening and how it is related to the big picture.
  4. Research Habits and Knowledge is not a skill that is limited to writing historical papers either. Knowing how to find the data that you need is a great incentive for companies to hire someone.
    • This skill can have many applications, but it just goes to show that if the cards are played correctly, historians can make themselves look very marketable and useful for a company.

Considering my findings, it is safe to say that there is a hope for history. Change will not happen by itself however, so we must have people who are willing to take risks  to make history better for everyone.

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