Why History? - North Thurston Public Schools

“The supreme purpose of history is a
better world.”
-Herbert Hoover
Have you ever wondered: Why do we have to learn
about history? Why do we have to go to history class
year after year and learn about the past when we could
be learning about what’s going on RIGHT NOW?!
Many students don’t like history at all. They
believe that learning about the past is totally
I’m here to tell you that it’s not! Like Herbert Hoover, I
believe that the study of history makes the world a
better place. Today I will give you 8 reasons why we
NEED this history class.
But first…
Let’s find out what YOU know about
 On a piece of paper titled “Why
History?”, please silently write a brief
paragraph in response to each of the
following questions:
◦ 1) Explain one lesson or activity you’ve
enjoyed in history class before. What did you
like about it? What did you learn?
◦ 2)Think of one reason why we should study
history in schools. Explain.
Now, on your paper make a chart –
does this
to this
quote, why
should we
You will receive a quote – there are
11 total quotes, including yours.
What does this
say about
According to this
quote, why
should we study
“A country without History keeps us
a memory is a
country of
madmen” – George
Unless we can
remember our past,
we will make crazy
Fill in your chart with the quote I give
Now, you will share your quote,
discuss, and then the other person
will write it down and fill in his/her
Your first partner is the person sitting
next to you. Introduce yourself and share
your quote. Discuss and the other person
completes his/her chart
 Switch partners! Now the other person
shares his/her quote, discuss and fill in
your chart.
 You have 3 minutes.
Do you have two rows completed
on your chart? If you have the same
quote as your partner, come to me
for a new one!
Your next partner is your sole mate. That
is, someone with the same kind of shoes
that you have.
 Repeat the process to fill in your chart!
 You have three minutes.
Do you have three rows completed?
Your next partner is the person who has
the same number of pets you do. Hold
up your fingers indicating the amount!
You have three minutes to repeat the
Do you have four rows completed?
Your next partner is someone who is
about the same height as you are.
Do you have 5 rows completed?
Your next partner is someone who has
the same hair color that you do.
One more! You will have 7 total
rows completed after this one.
Your final partner will be wearing the
same color shirt that you have.
Read over your chart.
Put a star by the best reason you
encountered for studying history.
 Put a smiley face by the quote that made
the most sense to you.
 Put an exclamation point by the quote
that you feel you had the best discussion
 Circle anything else you think is especially
#1: History Illuminates the Present
“I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the
lamp of experience. I know no way of judging the future but by
the past.”
◦ Edward Gibbon
“If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its
◦ Aristotle
#1: History Illuminates the Present
History helps us understand and survive the world
we live in. Without understanding the history of
issues facing us today, we will not be able to solve
#1- Examples
In order to address inequalities
in the United States, we must
look to our history to find out
how some people ended up with
so much and others with so
In order to try and solve the
conflict between Israel and
Palestine today, we must first
understand why they are fighting.
The answer can only be found in
#2: Skills
Studying history gives us an opportunity to develop
extremely important skills that will help us in all stages
of our lives, no matter who we are or what we do.
You don’t have to be a historian to benefit from
history class!
#2- Examples
Evaluating the reliability and
credibility of different sources,
including TV, films, textbooks,
Thinking for yourself;
formulating and depending
independent thoughts.
Reading, writing, research, public
speaking and listening.
Technology; build websites, make
movies, publish magazines.
Organization and Responsibility
#3: History Equals Power!
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the
present controls the past”- George Orwell.
 By manipulating what people believe learn about the past, people
and institutions may control what people believe and how they
behave in the present.
 During Saddam Hussein’s rule in Iraq, students were taught that
all of their nation’s wars were just and ended victoriously.
◦ How might these history lessons have impacted students in Iraq?
#3: Example
Thousands of Native Americans were taught the following in schools during
the late 1800s: "They told us that Indian ways were bad. They said we must
get ‘civilized’....It means ‘be like the white man’... And the books told how bad
the Indians had been to the white men —- burning their towns and killing
their women and children. But I had seen white men do that to Indians. We all
wore white man's clothes and ate white man's food and went to white man's
churches and spoke white man's talk. And so after a while we also began to
say Indians were bad. We laughed at our own people...”
◦ How might this type of education have affected the beliefs of Native American students?
◦ Compare the two photos of the same student form the Carlisle Indian Industrial School
taken three years apart.
#4: Inspiration Through History
Through history we
the great individuals,
groups, and events of
the past.
Learning about this can
inspire us to lead
greater lives in the
#4- Examples
Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights
Gandhi, non-violent protest and independence for
Harriett Tubman and the Underground Railroad
#5: Avoiding Mistakes of the Past
 “History, despite
its wrenching pain,
cannot be unlived, but if faced with
courage, need not be lived again.”
◦ Maya Angelou
 Through history we learn to avoid
repeating the terrible mistakes of the
◦ Slavery
◦ The Holocaust
◦ Child Labor
◦ Oppressive
#6: Decision Making
“History is the only
laboratory we have in
which to test the
consequences of
◦ Etienne Gilson
 “History is a guide to
navigation in perilous
◦ David McCullough
#6: Decision Making
By examining complex questions and issues from the past,
we can learn to make good decisions in the present.
History is not about memorizing dates and names- it’s about
learning how to THINK!
In class we will: deliberate, debate, persuade, simulate, roll-play,
Examples: The Cuban Missile Crisis, The Atomic Bomb, The
Declaration of Independence in 1776
#7: A Common Culture
History helps to provide us with a common culture, or
common identity that unites us.
 Imagine if you woke up one morning and couldn’t
remember anything about yourself. How would that
make you feel? How would that affect your life?
 Our history provides Americans with a common bond
that ties us together.
 In order to understand books, movies, television shows,
cartoons, the news and every-day conversations in
your own country, you must share in this “cultural
#7: A Common Culture
“History is especially important for Americans. In many
nations- Japan or Sweden, for instance- most citizens
share a common background. They have a similar look.
They may worship in the same church. That isn’t true of
us. Some of us were once Chinese, or Italian, or Turkish,
or Ethiopian. Americans don’t all look alike.
Sometimes we don’t think alike. But as Americans we
do share something. It is our history. We Americans
share a common heritage. If you are an American, then
the Indians, the Vikings, the Pilgrims, and the slaves are
all your ancestors. You will want to know their stories.”
Joy Hakim, historian.
#8: Current Events
“History is the present. That’s why every
generation writes it anew.” –E.L. Doctorow
Through the study of current events, history
gives us the opportunity to evaluate what’s
happening in our world RIGHT NOW and to
make an immediate impact.
#8- Examples
2012 Presidential
Drug Trafficking
The Economy
The war in
Independence in
South Sudan
Your Task Today…
Now it is time for you to demonstrate your
understanding of the importance of history.
Your task is to create one advertisement,
comic strip, cartoon, poem, song, or a letter
to a friend of 5 or more sentences that
demonstrates the importance of history.
You must refer to one of the reasons we
have discussed today. If you want to refer a
reason we have not discussed, please consult
with me.
Wolf at your door? Don’t know
what to do? Draw on History!
Let History
Illuminate your
For only a lifetime of
monthly payments of
your ignorance (you
don’t want that
anyway!) you can
1. Tackle difficult
2. Create a Common
3. Avoid the mistakes
of your past.
4. And some bonus
lessons come
chocolate coated!
The student has clearly demonstrated
understanding of at least one reason why
history is important ___ /10
 The student has put considerable effort
into the completion of this assignment
___ 10
 Extra Credit: Complete a second
assignment focusing on a different reason
for up to three points of extra credit.