Some people believe that the study of history is boring, that it is simply memorizing tedious details about people who lived long ago that have no impact on life today. This is not true! Not only can history be an exciting exploration into the events and ideas that have helped shape our world, studying history can also benefit a student in three key ways that you may not have considered.
Three Ways Studying History Helps You in Other Areas
- Everything has a history
A solid foundation in the study of history provides insights into every other academic subject, because everything has a history! When you study chemistry or music or English, knowing the past helps explain how we got to where we are today. Studying history can help you become a better student of art, German, math… just about any subject you can think of.
- Studying history requires critical thinking
When I was in graduate school, our professors told us that when they were making decisions about which students should be admitted, they placed the most emphasis on the analytical reasoning sections of the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations). History is not just reading about the past; it involves using information to analyze and evaluate different sources, to develop a thesis, and to express your thesis clearly and logically. To be a good historian, one must think deeply and critically.
- History teaches us about God, the world, and ourselves
When studying history from a Biblical worldview, we can see God’s redemptive plan for the world unfolding. One word of caution: this does not mean that God controls events simply to favor one group over another. We must consider the bigger picture. A better way to look at this is to study history in order to see how God’s hand is at work to accomplish His grand plan. When we study history, we see that God is working His purposes out, not only in history, but also in each one of us.
Whether you are taking a history class online with one of our wonderful Excelsior teachers or with a local co-op or at home, look for those connections between history and other disciplines, exercise your critical thinking skills, and ponder how God is at work. And have fun! Seriously!
For further information about historical research and writing, several universities offer online help. Two places you might visit are the University of Iowa’s History Writing Center and Writing Historical Essays: A Guide for Undergraduates by the Rutgers University Department of History.
Although only a small percentage of the world’s cultural heritage has been preserved on the internet, as long as you visit reputable sites, it can be a wonderful source for documents and historical writings. I have compiled a short list of websites that have primary source material for historical research. Download a copy here.
Make sure to download Susan’s compilation of Primary Sources Online!
Susan Eggers loves learning about the past and the people of our world, and sharing that love with her students. She attended Wake Forest University as a William Louis Poteat scholar, where she earned her B. A. in History, graduating magna cum laude. Continuing her studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she received her M. A. in Russian history and completed additional hours of graduate coursework toward a Ph. D. While in graduate school, Susan received grants to conduct research in the Lenin Library and the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art in Moscow, the National Library and the Russian State Historical Archive in St. Petersburg, the Slavic and East European Library at the University of Illinois, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. She has presented conference papers across the country and has published several articles on Russian history.