Four benefits from studying history – Why should your child study it?
I have a passion for pretty much anything history related. It all started for me when I watched the movie Gladiator starring Russell Crowe. I was fascinated by and still am to this day about the Roman Empire. Its strengths and weaknesses. I realized watching it I wanted to know more so I began reading about it online and in books. I wanted to know how much was represented on screen was actually how they dressed, how they fought, how they dined and so on. I can not explain to you why I wanted to know these things, something deep inside of me just wanted to know.
I want my children to benefit from the study of history. So far my daughter has not shown much interest in it despite my efforts. My son is too young at this point. This is something I will continue to work on. I do really believe though it is very important they come to understand history for their own sake and that of all humanity. It will give them perspectives outside of their own selves. It will make them question why things are and if they need to be that way always. Questions are at the heart of what history has taught me. Questioning everything if done correctly will benefit my children as I hope it will benefit yours. I want to explore here today with you four benefits from studying history and why I believe your child should study it.
Development of Critical Thinking skills
Critical thinking is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as follows,
“The process of thinking carefully about a subject or idea, without allowing feelings or opinions to affect you.”
In order to successfully study history in a non-biased manner one must be neutral in their assessment of any given historical event. They must look at it from all perspectives whenever it is possible and without emotion or prejudgment. Your child can study history and learn to be neutral in analyzing it.
- You can read short historical books with your child.
- Watch videos and movies.
- While you are watching or reading, take short breaks and ask questions such as why is player A behaving the way he is?
- What is really motivating this person?
- What circumstances are they reacting to? Etc.
By understanding these motives and external factors such as:
your child will be able to understand that complex events and the interactions of the participants.
It is important they develop the ability to think critically in our modern world we seem to be moving away from this skill. It is so easy to look at an event, hear or read a few words on it and come to a conclusion based on mostly emotion and not much analyzation.
Social media is about quick access to and short bits of information that form the public opinion on many topics. Critical thinking is a vital skill to foster in our children.
Our governments and media all have their own agendas and perspectives of current events and future plans. The only way to deal with this is to know how to filter through information to make informed decisions.
Ability to appreciate multiple points of view
Critical thinking will provide your child with the ability to analyze multiple points of view from the figures in the historical event. By learning to identify each figure actions, motivations, external factors at play your child will develop a deeper understanding of their view point.
For example if you studied the history of the pacific war between the USA and Japan from both countries’ history books you would learn reasons why Japan attacked the United States. But if you relied upon only on United States sources you would receive a biased view of the war. By studying Japan’s as well you see where their is overlap and where there is propaganda from each textbook. By doing that you uncover a clearer picture of the truth.
In their own lives the ability to look at a situation and see all peoples motivations, perspectives and desires in an unbiased manner is invaluable. Your child having this ability will put them in a small percentage of the world’s’ population.
Many people now depend on what the media tell them to form their own opinions and subsequent actions.
Instead, your child will be able to formulate their own ideas and interpretations of events and figures. Not being swayed by what the media says will make your child a healthy and strong individual that will make up their own mind.
Traveling back in time
By studying history your child gets to travel back in time and experience past events from the perspective of those people that lived them. Make it fun and talk as if you are that person from long ago while reading a passage from a history book. Ever try to talk like a warrior from an African tribe? Or from a Japanese feudal lord?
Take it one step further and have your child bring those times to life by:
- acting out together events
- make drawings
- paint how the people dressed
- describing how the houses looked
Watch a video about the event, search in your local university library for historical news clippings. Create a poster to make a presentation about the occurrences of that time from multiple perspectives. Ask those you give the presentation to for their views on the historical event.
As you do these activities while learning about the events your child will find history more interesting. I do this when reading short books to my daughter. She remembers the story much better than when I read in a normal voice. Give it a try when studying history together with your child and than leave a comment below on how it went. I would really like to know.
Children become more well-rounded
Finally studying history helps develop our children into more well-rounded individuals.
They benefit by learning to appreciate other cultures past and current ways of doing things.
Our children can learn that no culture is perfect nor imperfect. Your child will be able to question their own culture ways and things he or she believes could be improved upon.
Today nationalism focuses only on what is “great or right” with the culture of that particular country.
Hardly ever do you hear in Nationalism of each countries’ darker sides.
Those that it prefers no other nation have any knowledge of. History repeats so knowing the whole story will allow our children the opportunity to prevent past errors from re-occurring again.
Studying history also shows your child different political structures some of which are much different than our current one. Understanding how past ones functioned can give your child an appreciation of:
- how they operated
- their strengths
- their weaknesses
- and compare them to our current model.
Analyzing them helps reduce our assumptions based off of stories or stereotypes that exist. Instead we are left with facts.
As humans we need to develop the strongest, most intelligent, most informed, most resilient generation ever raised. We are facing great dangers that only a great generation can deal with. I believe we as fathers should be encouraging and participating in the study of history with our children. They will gain critical thinking skills if studied correctly which they can then use in all aspects of their lives. They will gain an appreciation for other cultures past and current. They will learn to appreciate multiple points of view. They will be able to through their imaginations travel to the times being studied and feel what life was really like. See what things people had and did not have.
Most children who study history will not go onto use it as adults which is perfectly fine. What will be lost if they do not study it now is gaining the skills I listed above. It is my opinion that our world would be better served with a new generation of people dealing with our issues from a perspective expanded by histories lessons. It is upon us as fathers to show and learn with our children as best we can. Will you join me? Are you already on this path? Do you agree or disagree with what I have discussed here? Please let me know in the comments below.
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Thanks and have a great day!
Proud papa of two,