History Is Not Just Dates and Names

I hated history in school. It annoyed me, and it was boring, and it took a lot of effort for a pointless nothing of a reward. I didn’t care about what date the Mesopotamian was settled, or when the Roman Empire fell. I didn’t care about King Hammurabi’s Code, or the dynasties in China.

You know what I do care about? People. Cultures. The day-to-day life of someone in those time periods. I cared about the lessons where we heard about merchants taking rafts down the Nile to a trading town and taking a two-month journey on camel up the Nile. I care about those first steps from a hunter-gatherer culture to a farming culture, that thought, if I keep these animals near me, and build a cage for them, and feed them, they will be here when I am hungry, and if I take these seeds and plant them, when they grow, I will have access to food and know where it is.

I care about the flappers and rebelliousness of the Roaring Twenties, and the Native Americans’ response to European conquerors. I care about what it was like to go through the Civil War, and the slaves who lived then. I care about the Jews persecuted during the Holocaust, and the Germans who sheltered them and risked their own lives.

I care about the Mayans, and their gods and their myths and their tombs, and the nobles and peasants during Europe’s Middle Ages.

I care about the losing side, the downtrodden and illiterate, I care about the music and the myths and the holidays and the occupations and the currency. I care about the smells that would be in the air and the sounds that would enter your ears and the texture of the clothing that someone once wore.

History doesn’t mean much to me.

People’s stories do.


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One Response to History Is Not Just Dates and Names

  1. 1Alive says:

    Love this post! The ironic thing about learning history is that it’s meant to teach us about past cultures and events so we can stand on the shoulders of our forefathers and progress. Learning dates and abstract events does not teach us that. It’s the stories about emotions and how people were affected by personal and global decisions in their own lives that teach us how to live, what to avoid, and where we come from. Now, if only we could get a memo to schools about why they’re teaching history, they might stop taking meaningless steps of duplication, walking boldly in the story they’ve been told, and start prioritizing an education that builds a quality in humanity as opposed to robotic, entitled, pupils who are taught only to obey.

    Just a quick thought.

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