So What Do Historians Do?

The funny thing when writing a blog is that I never know where to begin.  So I’m just going to write about something interesting that I have noticed.

I am a college student, and I am working on my undergraduate.  Often times when I tell people that I study history, their first inclination is to ask me a bunch of quesitons about when things happened, or who was in charge in who.  Don’t get me wrong, I love getting picked first for Team Jeopardy, but that’s really not what this major is about.

I recently spoke to some High School students about studying history, and I have noticed something about it.  History requires humility and empathy.  Notice I did not say memorization there.  I told the students that anybody can memorize facts and dates.  It takes a historian to know what to do with that information.  You may know that slavery did not come to Virginia until after 1660, but what does that mean?  You might win the daily double, but is that really knowledge?  Historians undertake the duty to understand others, and not let personal pride get in the way.

Anyone can use history to get a few points to help them in an argument, but the study of history means respecting the time and place of an event in context.  Is that tricky?  Yes.  Is it worth it? Absolutely.  When you give each time period their respect, you start to understand and think like the people did, and then you gain a whole new perspective on the world at the time, and can see trends and patterns that are traced from the beginning of time.  Truly incredible.  That’s what historians get to do.

-Phil

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About

Christian, Lover of History, Aspiring Teacher

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Posted in Some Simple Rants On History, The Ways Historians Think

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