Why study things that have already happened? Why look at things that have happened in the past instead of looking towards the future? You can’t change what’s already happened, why spend your time researching it?
There are a number of reasons why I’m studying history at university and plan on having a career in this specific field. One of the main reasons why I study history is because we can find out so much about ourselves, our views of the world, how views have changed and the impact that it had on the lives of those alive at the time, but also how those changes can be seen in modern society.
History is something that never stops; right now is going to be history one day – a future Prime Minister, President, King or Queen could be born, or a scientific discovery made. It’s the things that might seem small to us living through them that become major events in the future. How we deal with events happening now shapes how future generations are going to view our society, but also theirs.
History might not seem like an important subject to learn about, but so many lessons can be found in the mistakes and successes of those who have come before us. The Second World War is a prime example of how not just a society, but the world was changed because of the ideas of one person who had the power to express them. However, what most people don’t realise is that a lot of the ideas surrounding the ‘perfect race’ were worldwide with scientists sharing their discoveries and ideas with each other. Eugenic science during the twentieth-century can be seen across Europe in countries such as Germany and the UK, but also in the USA. The degree that eugenic science was applied in countries during the twentieth-century varies on governmental policy, but has some surprising results. Had I not taken a module that looked at the rise of modern medicine from 1750-2000 I wouldn’t have known how common eugenic science was across Europe and the USA. It really impacted the way that I viewed certain policies and ideologies.
I’ve always found learning about different cultures interesting which probably contributes to my interest in history. I’ve always been fascinated by the way society has developed and changed as well as the fact that there are still traces from these societies and beliefs still in place today. These were different societies with different rules and different cultures.
One of the problems with people not fully understanding history can be seen in the repeat of previous mistakes such and the First and Second World Wars, but also in the romanticisation of a time period. The 1950s are a prime example of this and something that I find interesting because there are a lot of misconceptions about this decade. A lot of people think that the 1950s were a really good time for people – the war is over, there were small improvements in women’s lives as they now had the vote etc. things were simpler and ‘safer’. However, people’s lives during this decade for example, were not as good as some believe due to the focusing on the positive areas of life at the time.
History is one of the areas where we will never stop discovering new information or learning new things about people and societies. Why wouldn’t you want to study history!?