History is deeply embedded in everything that we do. What would medicine be without history? Technology? Plumbing? Economics? While many people take history for granted, the subject not only helps make informed decisions about society, but contextualizes our future planning and decision making. Dedicated social studies teacher and mentor Steven Foxworth gave us the lowdown on history and why it might be the coolest thing you’ll ever learn about.
If you want to earn a greater sense of self, read history. Any of the memories that you currently have are considered a collective memory, which is the story of an individual or group of people bound by common characteristics or a common past. In a sense, history is a form of collective memory, one that has been intensively studied and refined to ensure that there is a narrative of true events. It can be a map of where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going.
So what makes it ‘cool’, you ask? From your Air Jordan sneakers to Childish Gambino’s newest song, they are all built on a history of design and genre development. Let’s take the example of Air Jordan. The earliest known shoes are sagebrush bark sandals that date back to as far as 7000 to 8000 BCE. While shoes were thought to exist far before this pair, the materials used to make them were often highly perishable, which makes it difficult to trace back. With variations and forms of shoes spanning the 10,000-year traceable history of shoes, the common athletic footwear that we currently know of is just over 200 years old. Steven Foxworth explains that the first real breakthrough with running shoes was made in 1832 when Wait Webster developed the first rubber sole that could be attached to a leather shoe or boot. The first Air Jordan was introduced in 1985, and the progression of that design can easily be found online.
With one single object, a historian is able to learn all the previous events that impacted the development of that particular object and contextualize its production and overall popularity. Even the simplistic breakdown above only shows a very small and miniscule picture of what contributed to the production of the modern-day Air Jordan.
Understanding history helps you understand people and societies. Steven Foxworth explains that history offers a plethora of information about how people and societies behave, allowing you to become an informed, active citizen of the world. These histories have created the conditions, culture and structure of the societies that we live in today. If you consider history a map, the more pieces of it you uncover, the clearer the overall map becomes. Whether you are interested in hip-hop, streetwear or movies, everything has a history and you never know what you might fall in love with if you take the time to look back in time.
History is much more than remembering the dates of a specific event, it is the study of why things happened and how they happened. Steven Foxworth views history as more of the study of change, and how change has shaped historical events. Teach your students or children the importance of history through exciting and engaging methods that captivate their imagination and spark excitement.