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Importance of Teaching History in the Computer World

November 19, 2011  by: Paulose  Points: 25   Category: Social Studies    Views: 756

Every day in the past is a lesson for the future. Today's incident becomes tomorrow's history. But history teaching is losing its status in the computer world.


It is a sad fact that many of the elementary school children in the United States do not like to study history. Some time back one of my American friends wrote to me that his child in third grade complains about history as a "boring subject." Another felt that there is no use in studying about people and events of past. But it is a wrong notion that undervalues the studies of history.

Why should our elementary school children study history?

There is no doubt that the primary purpose of schooling is to prepare students to function effectively in the world, and thereby to assist society to function effectively as well. We study the past in school not because students need to know a collection of old facts, but because history helps them understand how the world works and how human beings behave. Knowledge of the past is required for understanding present realities. When people share some common knowledge of history, they can discuss their understandings with one another.

What does history give?

Human self-awareness is the very essence of history. Arnold Toynbee said, "History is a search for light on the nature and destiny of man." R.G. Collingwood wrote, "History is for human self-knowledge.the only clue to what man can do is what man has done. The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is. Psychologist Bruno Bettleheim asserted that human self-knowledge is the most important role of education." Most of all, our schools ought to teach the true nature of man, teach about his troubles with himself, his inner turmoil and about his difficulties in living with others. They should teach the prevalence and the power of both man's social and asocial tendencies, and how the one can domesticate the other, without destroying his independence or self-love."

Why history in the elementary level?

In this age of the World Wide Web, globalization and international terrorism, knowledge of the larger world is seen as increasingly important even at the elementary school level. We have identified three basic principles of schooling. It should

1) Prepare students for the future.

2) Focus on meaningful understanding.

3) Be realistic in its expectations.

This is perhaps the most often-cited practical reason for studying history, and it was foremost in the mind of Thomas Jefferson when he wrote that schooling in America's new democracy should be "chiefly historical." He said, "the people.are the ultimate guardians of their own liberty. History by apprising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future. It will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of Hammurabimen."

A century later Woodrow Wilson agreed that history endows us with "the invaluable mental power which we call judgment." Now, some two centuries hence, Diane Ravich, a contemporary education policy analyst, affirms the continuing relevance of Jefferson's view, "History doesn't tell us the answers to our questions, but it helps to inform us so that we might make better decisions in the future."

History with Pleasure for the Development of Imagination and Good Understanding

The use of historical examples is ancient and no doubt predates written language. We can imagine cave dwellers sitting around the evening campfire sharing stories of admired ancestors worthy of emulation. Nietzsche said people need models, and historical examples are especially powerful models because they actually existed. Joan of Arc demonstrates the power of individual belief and action. Galileo symbolizes the fight against authority for freedom of thought. Thomas Becket and Thomas More represent integrity in the face of deadly intimidation.

Horatio Nelson exemplifies qualities of courage and duty. Hitler personifies evil. While it is not the province of American educators to tell students what their values should be, students can - by judging the actions of historical figures to be admirable or malevolent - advance the construction of their own moral belief systems. Studying the stories of the past in elementary school will surely make them better thinkers, enable them support common cultural understanding and dialogue. It will satisfy their need for identity. Above all, history can give them pleasure in their studies.

How to Make Teaching History in Elementary School More Interesting

Teaching history in elementary schools can be and should be made more interesting than other subjects. Children like stories. It can carve out the future of humanity from its past experiences. It should be made a part of their life experiences. Historical knowledge about their family, their surroundings, etc. can keep history alive. Collecting pictures, coins, etc. can kindle the historical curiosity in children. role models, plays, innovated games with historical themes like time games, field trips, etc. can make history more joyful to the elementary school children. Part of their joy comes from visiting foreign mental landscapes, part from discovering new things about themselves and a big part is simply the love of a good story. For those with an historical turn of mind, history supplies an endless source of fascination.

History With Other Subjects

Teaching history can be more practical and interesting when it is coordinated with other subjects. We can now narrow our focus to the special role played by history within the educational scheme. Over the course of the twentieth century, schools developed a structure that addresses five broad and fundamental realms of knowledge: History: understanding the human world, Science: understanding the physical world, Mathematics: understanding the world quantitatively, Language: communicating about the world and Arts: expressing human creativity. History can be easily interlinked with other subjects and made more easy digestible.

Let Teaching and Learning History Become a Joyful Sharing

A democracy needs citizens with good judgment and wisdom, and the past is the only place to find it.

Scholars say that teaching history to kids has many important benefits. History provides identity. Studying history improves our decision making and judgment. History shows us models of good and responsible citizenship. History also teaches us how to learn from the mistakes of others. History helps us understand change and societal development. History provides us a context from which to understand ourselves and others. And so let us make efforts to teach history interesting to our children so that they may yearn to learn the subject with great enthusiasm.


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