Confessions of a History Lover
Looking back at my childhood school days, I must confess that I was one of those students that sat in the back of the classroom and thought history class was a drag. What’s the point of learning about a bunch of names, places and dates about past events and people long dead.
Now in my third trimester of life, I’ve learned that history matters.
History provides us with a sense of identity. Ancient cultures devoted much time and effort teaching their children about their family history. They believed that learning about the past helps a child better understand who they are. It tells them where their ancestors came from and how they interacted with larger historical change. Did our ancestors serve in major wars? Did they endure pandemics? How did they handle other significant events? Understanding our history gives us the ability to appreciate the legacies we may have inherited from our ancestors. Studying our own history can help us better understand ourselves.
History helps us become better informed citizens. This knowledge can help us take an active role in the political forum through educated debates and by refining our core beliefs. Good citizens are always informed citizens, and no one can consider themself to be an informed citizen without a working knowledge of history. This is the case whether we’re talking about our role in our community or our country on the whole. History helps us become better voters and be more effective members of society by participating in democratic activities such as voting, community work, as well as vying for leadership positions.
History teaches values. Learning about people who have faced and overcome adversity can be inspiring. You can study how great people of history successfully worked through moral dilemmas, and learn from ordinary people who teach us lessons in courage, persistence and protest. We can draw inspiration from such people and imitate their strength in solving the challenges that face us today.
Studying history equips us with vital skills such as critical thinking, research expertise, evaluation skills as well as both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Studying history can play a critical role in promoting one’s intellectual growth and development. The study of history can transform us to be a better student, citizen, and person overall.
History is fun. For thousands of years, humans have used the art of storytelling to educate and motivate. Studs Terkel once said, “People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being. Storytelling is a form of history, of immortality, too. It goes from one generation to another”.
In closing, I invite everyone to have some fun, learn some skills and become good citizens by getting involved with the Milton Historical Society.
Jeff Dufresne, President and Founding Member of the Milton Historical Society