History is an interesting and necessary subject because, as the expression says, "those who do not remember history are bound to repeat it."
But unfortunately, millions of students around the world are not that fond of history; some of them think it is boring, some of them find it too hard to learn, some of them feel that learning about the events that happened centuries in the past is not that relevant for the present or the future and so on.
The article below will debunk these and other myths and show you why studying O-level history is important and how you can make it interesting.
Myth 1. History is boring.
This is the most common reason cited by the students for not liking history. The majority of them do not like it because they think it is boring, and let’s face it; there are some history teachers who reaffirm their opinion.
Typically history teachers go on and on about people and events from hundreds of years ago, and students find it hard to relate to them and see how this information is relevant in modern-day life. But it doesn’t have to be this way! There are many ways you can make a history lesson interesting and interactive.
For example, students can have a role-playing session and act out a historical scenario. Everybody likes the idea of being an actor or an actress, so with this role-playing sessions, you will encourage your students to learn about historical events and have fun at the same time.
Myth 2. Historical knowledge is useless.
As a famous saying goes, "the history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes," so students should be made to understand that although the people described in the historical events are long gone, their actions, their feelings, and the way they handled the situation at that time is something we can learn from.
Our history is our collective memory, and learning about the mistakes people made in the past will help us avoid similar mistakes in the future.
Myth 3. All you do is memorize the names of people, places, and dates.
This is yet another big reason why many students dislike history. While it is true that history students have to memorize quite a lot of information containing dates, places, and names of people, mindless memorization is not the end goal here.
The goal is to make them analyze the event that unfolded. And, the events that unfolded in the past are truly interesting. If the students are interested in the story, they will be motivated to learn the names of the main characters in that story.
Myth 4. The only way to learn history is from a book.
If the only way the students learn about history is by reading thick historical books, then it is no wonder they have a negative feeling towards the subject. Books are not the only way you can learn about historical events; there are some other much more interesting ways to do that.
For example, you can organize an excursion to a nearby museum. Allow the museum guide to show the students some cool historical equipment and capture their imagination with stories of famous battles.
The recent promotion from Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore Rediscovers campaign, has many great deals for Singaporeans to relive the past and learn more about our history.
Another interesting way of learning about history is seeing a historical play or a film. Now, you may not have the budget to buy a bunch of tickets to see "Hamilton," but don’t worry! Hollywood has got you covered! There are a number of history-based films available for streaming online for a rather low price.
Students can watch them and discuss in class the historical event that unfolded in the film and what ramifications it had on the modern world.
Myth 5. History is all about dead people and past events.
The majority of history lessons do contain information about individuals who have since perished. However, learning history doesn’t just mean memorizing biographies of dead people. There is more to history than that.
Now, of course, if you study history, you will have to memorize some information about dead people; there’s just no way around that. But the fact that they are dead doesn’t mean that they are irrelevant today. Students will be more motivated to learn about historical figures if they can see the link between the actions of those historical figures and the reality they live in today.
We tend to take the reality that we’re leaving in for granted, and most of us don’t even think about the fact that all of these rights and freedoms that we consider basic had to be fought for. So the key here is to understand the link between the struggle of our ancestors and our life today. For example, if students understand the importance of women voting, they are more likely to appreciate the suffragettes and their actions.
Also, if students understand the effect ending slavery had on our society, they will be more likely to appreciate Abraham Lincoln and his ideology. The thing about history is that there isn’t a single person in the world who hasn’t been affected by it.
No matter who you are, you can find a historical event that has had an effect on the way you live your life today. So catching that link between past people and events and the modern-day reality is what makes history more interesting.
Hopefully, this article made a compelling case for history and made you realize why it is indeed an extremely interesting subject. While the way the history is presented to the students doesn’t do it any favors, it is not the history’s fault!
If the students are introduced to history properly, they will soon lose themselves in it. And preserving history for future generations is important because, as I have already mentioned, historical knowledge helps us learn from other people's mistakes and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.