Every year thousands of young people probably ask the same question: “Why should I study history?” The monotonous
lectures, mind-numbing lists, and stale
dates are as appetizing as moldy bread.
Parents and teachers respond with generic answers such as, “to get a well-rounded education” or “better career,” or
they offer the more nebulous “you never
know when you’ll need it” sort of answer.
Obviously, this is less than persuasive.
Rather than recycling worn-out res-
1. History Offers Many
ponses, I’d like to offer four compelling
reasons to study history. These four
reasons are on a continuum; they are not
all equally important. Still, they are con-
crete and decisive reasons to study history.
Everyone likes a good story, and oftentimes, the best stories are the real ones.
The events of history are sometimes so
astounding that they are more unbelievable than fantasy, except that they actually happened.
Admittedly, this is not the strongest reason to study history. While this reason may
be weak, it is still essential; it is the “hook”
that causes us to become and remain interested. Unfortunately, in many schools,
history is presented not as the narrative of
a grand story, but as a dry and stale list of
names and dates. No wonder people don’t
study history when they can’t even appreciate the most entertaining reason!
2. History Teaches Us Morals,
Lessons, and Wisdom
As we read of the faithful patriotism of
by Daniel Pentimone
George Washington, the brilliant planning
of Stonewall Jackson, or the adventur-
ous piety of William Bradford, our char-
acters are shaped so that we appreciate
The events of history are
sometimes so astounding that
they are more unbelievable
than fantasy, except that they