Sometimes I wonder why so many people find history boring. I’d keep hearing the same joke whenever I say I like history. “What’s so interesting about learning the lives of a bunch of dead guys?”. History like literature is full of stories, mysteries, romance -there’s actually more to it if one should look closely.
People’s distaste of learning history might have gone way back to history classes in school, where every exam was dreaded because it’s always about memorizing dates, names of people, and places. Back when most history teachers didn’t emphasize the significance or tried even just a little to tell the great stories of the past. That’s what made history boring. But it shouldn’t be.
Learning about history should be exciting. It is after all OUR journey. it is the story of mankind. It is our story. So, how can you make learning history more fun and interesting? Here are ten fun ways to try:
1. Historical Atlases
Learning history through hardbound history textbooks can be confusing. Most historical books today tend to assume readers have a decent amount of historical knowledge already. According to historians, the best way to learn history is to consult a timeline or a historical atlas. Historical atlases include maps and charts that depict the evolution of geopolitical landscapes. They help people understand history in a broad view by pinpointing the era when historical events happened.
2. Watching Historical Movies
Movies that portray the past are some of the best ways to learn history. While not all movies do portray history accurately, there are lots of films out there who do a great job depicting the events that happened in the past. For example, if you want to learn more about the Holocaust, you could go watch Schindler’s List, The Boy in Striped Pajamas, or The Pianist.
3. Reading Inspiring Autobiographies
Biographies are another way to learn more about history. It helps you experience the past through the lives of people who lived it. Examples of great autobiographies include Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, The Diaries of Samuel Pepys, and Testament of Youth by Vera Britain.
4. Visiting Museums
There’s nothing like looking at history through a visual perspective. Most museums today hold artifacts and various historical gems like old clothing, tools, and ancient rings that tell more about the history of a place of than your history book. These things can almost take us back to the period or era by helping us understand how life was back then.
5. Touring Historical Places
Visiting a memorial site where they have commemorated a battle or war, or where they honored soldiers can inspire you to learn more about the subject. The problem with most people visiting historical places is that they simply take pictures and post it on social media without bothering to learn the significance of the place.
When visiting a new country or place. try walking the streets, visiting the oldest places like temples and old churches. Nancy R. Newhouse’s In France, Honoring the Fallen in the War to End All Wars is a great example of a historical visit.
6. Attending Cultural Events
Experiencing a culture through its traditions can be a wonderful experience. When visiting a new place or country, try to attend performances of traditional dance and music. If you can, try participating to get the most of the experience.
7. Tracing Your Family’s Historical Roots
Relating history to your life is one way to cultivate a love for the subject. So why not try tracing your family tree to see your historical roots? Wouldn’t it be awesome to find that you were actually related to George Washington? Today there are lots of sites which can help you accomplish this. For example, Ancestry.com is a great place to trace your historical roots. It has a huge collection of historical resources and facts that will help you learn more about your family’s history.
8. Cooking Historical Recipes
What did Vikings eat for breakfast? What kind of cakes did people like to eat during 1935? What ingredients did they use to make donuts in 1833? No one can find the subject of food boring. Anyone who wants to learn more about their country’s historical past should start by eating like their ancestors. Who knows? Researching about historical food recipes may help bring out the chef in you.
History doesn’t have to be boring. Cultivating a love for history by appreciating and reminiscing the past helps us understand our present and future in a more humane way. The best way to learn history is to experience it through different perspectives.
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