Growing up in the Montgomery County Public Schools, I always had a passion for social studies and reading. I had learned about history from ancient civilizations to European and American History. But one thing that always struck me was the perspectives of minorities was lacking and underrepresented. Not until college did I learn about marginalized history of Africans, Asians and indigenous groups and what their place meant in our world. Now, as a History major with a minor in Public History, I am able to appreciate history as a profession and the perks it comes with it. For example, as a well-trained student of history with UMBC at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), I can analyze primary and secondary sources; develop historical arguments; make historical connections; and utilize reasoning about comparison, causation, and continuity and change over time. Indeed, these skill sets demonstrate my ability to not just read and write historical papers but also think critically.
My understanding of history began to change when my history classes were no longer about memorization of facts and dates, but were focused on critical thinking. History is more than just memorization of facts and dates, it is thinking analytically and understanding how historical events and people changed over time.
So why do historians study history and why is history so important especially in this day of age? These questions can be summed up by Peter N. Stearns, author of “Why Study History.” Stearns lists seven reasons why one should study history:
- History Helps Us Understand People and Societies
- History Helps Us Understand Change and How the Society We Live in Came to Be
- The Importance of History in Our Own Lives
- History Contributes to Moral Understanding
- History Provides Identity
- Studying History Is Essential for Good Citizenship
- History Is Useful in the World of Work
Indeed, “History is more than just the living record of nations, leaders, and wars. It’s also the story of us. It’s packed with tales of how someone stood up for what they believed in, or died for love, or worked hard to make their dreams come true. All of those things are concepts we can relate to; it’s enriching to know that so could the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, or Martin Luther King. Plus, history is just plain interesting. Everything you like about your favorite movies, television shows, and fiction novels is yours to experience right here in reality when you study history.”
If you are interested in history and want to learn how you can be a historian, I would check out the History Student Association (HSA) or hear from your very own historian at USG with Dr. Nolan, the Director of the UMBC History Program: https://shadygrove.umbc.edu/history.php. I would also encourage reading our very own history journal at the Priddy Library or checking online through this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz9D6o1gHBBbcUF6bVFIZEdZVlk/view. You can also email me at Mariam8@umbc.edu