Educating students about History is imperative in the process of helping them discover who they are. Students, especially at the high school level, are in a period of their lives in which they are questioning everything, exploring what they believe and trying desperately to find a way to fit in and be unique, at the same time. I remember sitting in a classroom in high school, pretending to listen to the teacher spout dates and facts about old dead guys we should remember, and wondering to myself what does all this have to do with me?’ I know I was not alone, and I am sure many students in high schools today are sitting in their classes, preoccupied with other things, just staring at the clock until the bell rings.
History, as a subject, should not be about drilling dates, names, and locations into student’s minds. It is not a list of events that stand out, or a mere textbook that students read and complete the accompanying worksheets for. History is a story, the most exciting, enriching fiction ever to be told and it is up to school districts to hire teachers that are really great storytellers! Students need to be inspired, challenged, and captivated so that they open their minds to the mysteries of everything history encompasses! American History, World History, or even East Asian History- it is up to the teacher to paint the picture of the inner-connections of all the disciplines into the story itself! Too many students never realize that History is just the story of how philosophy, biology, drama, literature, geography, civics, psychology, and sociology all work together to effect and be affected by one another.
Students need to see that they are not the center of the universe and that there is a huge world out there with a million stories to tell. Teaching History as Big’ History, incorporating the big themes, and asking the tough questions, is more useful that drilling dates and names down the throats of bored students that will forget most of what they learned in less than a year. Give them something to be curious about, help them feel like they are a part of something much bigger, show them the connections- and maybe, just maybe we will see a generation that actually gives a damn.