History — The underrated subject
History is one of the most ignored subjects in school. Often times, students complain about the lack of the “quality” knowledge that they obtain by studying a bunch of dates and wars.
The problem doesn’t lie around the subject but the methodology it is taught or studied.
History, unlike STEM courses doesn’t contain single source of truth. History is not a version of black or white like the STEM subjects. History is a version of story that might vary based on the source narrating the topic, often times that might be the winners as the cliche goes — History is written by winners.
However, a good teacher of history presents not one point of view say for instance, the Indian freedom struggle.There is not a single source of information that I remember going through the history text books of my country where I read the English point of view about the Indian freedom struggles. My text books have pages and chapters dedicated to the the every subtle agitation that was pioneered by the Indians — Ahimsa, INC, Bose and Bhagat.
What the British think? Did they really think they owned the country and saw India as a supplier of cheap goods as it is portrayed. Do they regret Jallianwala bagh? What were the measures taken by the English to restore the faith in the Indian system? I couldn't think of an iota of information around these topics in my textbooks, even if I did they are not objective enough but rather littered with perspectives or deductions based on conversations heard by third parties.
Reading just the last century history of every country in the world is good enough to solve all the world’s problems. There is a lot for and against every social issue — be it LGBTQ rights, the left economy vs right economy, the small government, the extremism of the right wing zealots and what not.
However governments have been trying to re-write the history that suits the agenda and more importantly are reinventing the wheel to problems that might have been already solved.
Here comes the importance of a good history teacher — History as I mentioned before doesn’t contain a single source of truth — He/She should provide the best opportunity for students to view the “other side”, research the topic — thus improving their research ability and being able to form opinions objectively rather than being force fed. These skills obtained can play huge role once they enter the STEM courses, which are more often viewed as the prized courses.
The unintended consequence of viewing from a different lens is — it improves the quality of the discussion , an ability to tolerate and respect a difference in opinion thus leading a healthy political discourse.