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MindErrantry's avatar

Do you find history boring?

Asked by MindErrantry (818 points ) October 21st, 2008

If so, why—that is, is it the subject matter itself, the way you were taught it, something else? Is it all of history, or do you just dislike certain eras? As a history major, I’m very curious to learn what sorts of things make people dislike it. If you do like it, same question: what originally caught your interest, if anything?

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32 Answers

Randy's avatar

It’s my favorite. It’s the easiest. It can’t change. There are no variables, just the plain way it happened (by the people who won/survived/wrote the story anyways…)

I also just find the study of how people lived without our modern conveniences very interesting. The way the went about life and all the culture to it is just amazing!

Spargett's avatar

No one likes the dates. No one can relate to a date. But we find stories of ourselves and who we want to be buried in the past.

iwamoto's avatar

the thing i like about history, is that often you can find out how they tackled a problem, and then use that as a solution for your own problem, here in holland people don’t like to talk about when they killed a lot of people in indonesia after the 2nd world war, yet they always love to confront the germans with the war, and when you raise the indonesia subject it’s wiffed away…oh holland, when will you learn…

mea05key's avatar

i like history because i like to know the past and what had happened. Its interesting to see how we progress or digress throughout the century. To me history helps to improve my general knowledge and it will be very dreadfully to have history for examinations. It is not meant to be examined i feel.

peziak's avatar

I personally like history a lot. I liked studying history and still enjoy watching documentaries and reading articles. While I was studying history certain subjects or periods of time appealed to me more than others. An example – I found myself more interested in history before and up to the end of the World War 2 than after. I also preferred European History to American History. However, there many times when I found that the details to be too tedious and I was turned off by the requirement to remember and reference tonnes of dates. But on the whole, I still did well in the subject.

Personally I have found that people who know their history often have a better perspective on the world. That’s because history tends to repeat itself especially when it comes to politics and foreign policy. History also bleeds into other subjects like Sociology, Anthropology, Sciences and even Business. So it offers a great complement of knowledge.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I adore history! I had a teacher in high school, who on the first day of class, wrote on the board, “All history is gossip.” We took what was in the book and supplemented it with other readings.

I agree with peziak, people who know history often do have a better perspective on the world, and events. I think it helps you understand context.

Mtl_zack's avatar

i love history. i think that ignorance about the world around us is one of the worst sins, and that we should all learn lessons from the past.

it all depends on the teacher. i had a teacher in high school, who taught history of quebec and canada. she presented the information amazingly. i got 98% in the class, 100% on the final exam, thanks to her and her approachability and the fact that she would answer questions.

right now, im in my us history class, but the teacher is just going over the tests from last week. he is a great teacher and is very approachable if you have questions. he presents the information in ways that the students understand. there are certain parts that are extremely boring that even he doesnt want to teach, so the fact that he isnt interested gives us the vibe that we shouldnt be either. also, in us history, there are many things that are cliche, and that i think ive heard 400 times before.

tabbycat's avatar

I love history, too, especially social and intellectual history. I agree that the reciting of dates and battles can be boring, but I enjoy learning how the people lived and how they coped with their problems. There is a lot we can learn from our ancestors’ lives.

One of my favorite television programs is ‘The American Experience.’

wundayatta's avatar

History is so boring. It is my goal in life to keep myself as ignorant as possible. I really hate being bothered by facts!

tonedef's avatar

History was always my least favorite class, and I didn’t take any in college. Memorizing a laundry list of dates, names, and your history teacher’s “talking points” is just not engaging for me. You’re not solving any problems and you can’t see yourself making any progress, really.

With physics or calculus or art or English, you learn how to DO things. You don’t in history.

deaddolly's avatar

It’s my favorite as well. It was my fave subject. I find it interesting…learning about the history behind a certain country. If you’ve ever traveled to Europe, you’d probably appreciate it even more.

pathfinder's avatar

I like history becouse is tie on future.I mean without history the world would be less intrusth in about.Haw would people live without memory.I thing in history are kept many secrets .

hammer43's avatar

I use to think history was boring in high school because they only talk about white people’s history, well I’m black so you can see why I would think that way…Now that I know black people, as well as other races have history, I love reading and looking at documentaries about them.

GAMBIT's avatar

I don’t like history when it glorifies war.

tonedef's avatar

@hammer43: I think that’s a big part of what turns people off. Women are only discussed during the temperance movement, Black people are only discussed WRT to the slave trade, Asian-Americans, we are told, built some railroads, and LGBTQ people didn’t exist.

If history were less exclusive, and more individuals could identify with what they were reading, they’d probably be more enthusiastic about it.

That’s among the reasons that “The Real World” is more popular that Doris Kearns Goodwin specials on PBS.

hammer43's avatar

@tonedef I agree with what you have to say totally.

jvgr's avatar

I like history, but hated how I learned about it in school History textbooks have to be one of the prime sleep-inducing forms of writing a grade 1–12 student is supposed to read.

Once I discovered the subject as presented by writers who had a passion for the subject and terrific writing skills, I started loving it.

tonedef's avatar

@jvgr, The only history writer that’s really captured my attention is Sarah Vowell. Her essays and narratives are wonderful, and she’s the only historian (used loosely) whose writing has made me cry. …on multiple occasions.

elchoopanebre's avatar

+1 for being a history major. Same here.

I love history because it’s just so freaking interesting. To me, it’s the best and ‘purest’ social science. Many other social sciences get way too specific. Anthropology, Sociology, Geography, Political Science etc all draw from history in their lessons but leave you wanting less theory and more history. I see History as the combination of all these other fields without their specific nit-picky details.

I’ve had awesome history teachers my whole life. I’ve yet to have a teacher emphasize dates (the main reason everyone says they hate history when I ask them is they don’t want to memorize dates) unless it was something extremely general like what century the Victorian period was in.

Another reason people say they hate history is they don’t like reading long books and writing essays/papers on them. I love doing both of those things so it only makes history a better fit for me.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Depends on the history topic. I mean history channel is my second favorite channel(first is Discovery) but i just find US history to bore the hell out of me.
WWII history is really cool IMO.Also I find ancient history extremely interesting, i could go on all day about Roman, Greek, and Egyptian history lol.

Knotmyday's avatar

Nope.

If you combine studies with travel, history will come alive for you.

You can say- “On this spot, sword struck sword. The English archers let fly, and the French crossbowmen charged. At that moment, the fate of nations hung in the balance…”

“On this spot, 56 great men took pen in hand and signed a nation into existence…”

“Here stood Pharoah…”

wundayatta's avatar

If history is told in compelling stories (no lists of people and dates), and is seen as a why did who do what to whom, then I think people will love it. Especially now that there are so many movies to illustrate the stories.

If you get into doing primary research, and digging through old artifacts and documents, and making a story out of them, it’s probably even more fun.

susanc's avatar

@Randy, sure it changes. The stories get retold to suit the tellers.
That’s history too.

asmonet's avatar

I hope to have two PhD’s one day.
Paleo-anthropology FTW!

I want to know everything there ever was to know about anything. So, nope, not boring. Just, everything we’ve done, how we got started, what single people or species turned the course of LIFE not just human life but everything on it’s head. I am ridiculously curious about that sort of stuff.

The only thing I can’t stand is American history. Civil war, Revolutionary., etc. It bores the shit out of me. I honestly don’t know why because things like Vietnam and World Wars are still interesting.. just our own stuff is bleh.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@asmonet exactly how i feel about US history.

galileogirl's avatar

What is more interesting than people? Most posts seem to reflect how the subject was presented whether well or ill. I was self taught having never taken a history class from the time I was 17 until I started teaching US History at the ripe old age of 45. Over those 28 years I read about interesting times and followed the ebb and flow of history to satisfy my own curiosity. Imagine though if those 28 years had to be condensed into 2 or 3. The first thing you do when you condense something is take all the juice out.

You really can’t blame teachers, though. We become history teachers for the love of the subject but we are evaluated and judged based on whether our students can identify 35 sometimes arcane facts on the annual standardized test. The real purpose of teaching history in high school is to “hook” students with a taste of the good stuff and then leave them craving more.

Tonedef: Have you read Barbara Tuchman?

You do have to have a chronological sense of history to understand how one thing leads to another, sometimes because of the great surprises but more often predictably because people don’t realize that humanity has dealt with everything and we can avoid the pitfalls if we just pay attention.

For those who don’t like American history, find your connection. You may not feel a connection with the Civil War but when you learned about how your direct ancestor left Tennessee in the 1850’s only to find himself fighting on the opposite side from his family 10 years later. Or that grandad’s family had gone from immigrant carpenter to the State Architect of Illinois in 50 years and then develop a thriving practice among the booming capitalists in 1928 then lose it all in the great depression and becoming a maintenance man for his father-in-law’s apt building, it makes history come alive.

asmonet's avatar

If only I had a connection. My roots don’t stretch that far… only until about 1900 since then I’m interested. My grandfather alone is fascinating.. Top lawyer for MGM, alive for the Titanic, the depression, on the olympic fencing team, part of a headline making international custody battle, and a top marine. That man, interested me in all those things. But I dunno before that yes, the human individual stories grab me but the time period not so much. Plus is easily available so I’m sure I take it for granted. I live two hours from Colonial Williamsburg. :)

Trance24's avatar

I absolutley love history. I do not care for American history as much, though I still will study it. I really love Egyptian and Roman history.

mea05key's avatar

I love history because it tells me stories that i would not know because i was not there at that time but i do believe that at certain times, we can be fooled by history. Take for example, in Japan, students are taught history but what is surprising is that the lessons are not accurate. Young people in Japan do not know about their country past very well especially the bad ones where the japanese invaded and tortured people. Also in my country (Malaysia), there are certain history characters that we are proud of all these while but recently it was found that the characters are hoax.

asmonet's avatar

@mea: Can you give us examples of those fictional characters?

mea05key's avatar

@asmonet

It is what I found from my country’s history. Malaysia ‘s history begins in the Melaka state. Back then Melaka was one of the busiest port in Asia in 1400s. There were quite a number of records that captured Melaka’s history during that era. One of the more popular text is the “Sejarah Melayu” which tells a lot about our country during that era and most of our high school textbooks were based on the story writen in there. One of most famous accounts in Sejarah Melayu tells about the 5 warrior friends that exist during that period. They were known to us as Malays all this while and recently studies show that the 5 warriors were actually chinese that came from China. Note that a lot of merchents from china, portugese, dutch and many parts of the world came to Melaka to trade because of the abundance of spicies. We do not know how true can the historical text. Most historical accounts that we learn are more towards the glory of our country in the past, i feel..

madsmom1030's avatar

History is fascinating- you never know how it is going to catch up to you. By the way I was a history minor in college and ended up helping to teach History of Tudor/Stuart England because I knew more about the Tudor era than my professor at the ripe age of 20. lol It was great fun. A more personal story follows.

I have a rather unusual maiden name from Italy. I was able to find my great-grandfather in the Ellis Island records. That led me to a younger sister that had settled in New York City and stayed there. My ancestor ended up in Cleveland, Ohio. I used that to trace a group of relatives non of us knew existed. I have met some of them and learned more about my family.

Also my father received an email from a distant family member in Italy that was tracing those that immigrated. We now know the town we come from in Italy, Alife. It is outside of Naples. My father and I are planning on visiting there one day. So history is not dead but alive and can lead you to surprising places.

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