“History is a story about the past that is significant and true.” This simple definition contains two words packed with meaning which must be understood in order to understand history.
History repeats itself. Who knows, what we learn right now about the past may come back to help us in the future!
In all cases, understanding History is integral to a good understanding of the condition of being human. That allows people to build, and, as may well be necessary, also to change, upon a secure foundation.
The study of history is important because it allows one to make more sense of the current world. One can look at past economic and cultural trends and be able to offer reasonable predictions of what will happen next in today’s world. One can also understand why some rules exist in the modern world.
The study of history is important because it can tell us how we evolved. It can tell us what decisions worked in particular situations in the past and what didn’t. This can be useful when taking decisions today in similar situations. We can also take inspirations from certain events to motivate us for example, the battle of Thermopylae. These events tell us how a few stood against many. They can serve as inspirations for people who find themselves outnumbered by their opponents (be it anywhere). Also studying why Empires collapsed may give us insights into how to efficiently run our countries. If the Germans had taken lessons from history, then during World War 2, they wouldn’t have fought in Russia during the winter, as Napoleon did.
Can we learn from history? Of course, the precise answer is yes – if we are willing to. But if we do not sincerely seek to learn from the past, we will learn nothing. This is true of the professional historian as well as students.
History is important because it helps us to understand the present. If we listen to what history has to say, we can come to a sound understanding of the past that will tell us much about the problems we now face. If we refuse to listen to history, we will find ourselves fabricating a past that reinforces our understanding of current problems.
History teaches value. If it is true history, it teaches true values, if it is pseudo history, it teaches false values. The history taught to our children is playing a role in shaping their values and beliefs – a much greater role than we may suspect.