The word history can conjure up a whole array of different images from across centuries of events from across the globe. Perhaps it is for this very reason that so many educators and Government educational ministers feel that it is a subject that does not need to be given the same amount of teaching time as subjects like science and maths and English and foreign languages. Yet it is only through this history that we have arrived at where we are today. It is only through this history that past mistakes can be recognized and avoided for the future. Without the proper understanding of history and all that has gone before it is possible to argue that those same mistakes might yet be made again.
Speaking as a citizen of Great Britain I am writing from a country whose education of history is desperately wanting in so many areas. Admittedly, it would be impossible for children to be taught the entire history of this country throughout the course of their school lives. To focus on as small a portion of it as they do in schools, however, seems absurd. So much is missed out, so many events that have changed the world, not just the country. Not only are they missed out but they would also be some of the most fascinating times in history. Rather than study the rise of Napoleon and the wars that ensued, I remember the closest I came to studying the period was to be given the option of studying the industrial revolution, a period whilst unquestionably significant, probably not as historically significant as many other periods that are open to choose from.
Another more controversial issue is that of the history of ethnic minorities in the country. Periods such as the crusades are forgotten because of fear of causing offense to Islamic citizens whilst the history of the slave trade is virtually re-written. Whilst I would never discriminate against anyone because of their color or beliefs, I also know that I cannot change what has gone on centuries before I was born. Perhaps if these lessons of the passed were learned, lessons that could be taken from events such as the Crusades, then the recent problems between the East and the West could be lessened.
History is an essential part of anyone’s education and, in my view, something that we should never stop learning. We are living history everyday and it only makes sense that we should continue to understand what has gone before us just as we should what is happening now. The two are not different at all but almost identical.