Whenever I tell people that I was a history major, this is the reaction I usually tend to get:
I get it. A lot of people hate learning history. To them it’s boring and full of information they don’t need to know, dates that nobody wants to memorize, and dead people who no one cares about anymore.
I chalk this up to schools not knowing how to teach history. Many schools are bound to following standards of learning and therefore are forced on what they are allowed to teach. This causes many to not like what they are teaching and therefore they just give on making history interesting to their students.
I was one of those students. I actually have always enjoyed history but it wasn’t because of what I learned in schools. I got my history learning from reading books on my own or watching historical movies and then going back to do my own research. Sadly none of the teachers throughout my public schooling every really made me consider history as something I wanted to study more even though I was very interested and good at it. Then again, I took that darn AP test and even though I read my textbook thoroughly and took copious amount of notes, I still only got a 2. So it’s no surprise that I wanted to study engineering in college because that’s where the $$$$ is.
But then I actually got to college and throughout a series of events discovered that engineering was not what I really was meant to do. I took some electives in history to fulfill prerequisite requirements and not surprisingly I loved them. I made the decision to switch my major to history. And then was when I discovered the love of history from those that do as well.
Learning history in undergraduate college was such an eye-opener to me. I took classes in Asian history, European history, and American history. I took classes focusing on British history which second to American history is the best thing ever. I learned about Chinese history from my professor who was the daughter of one of the government officials during Chairman Mao’s tenure. I took classes in American history that focuses on time periods such as the 1920s and the Cold War. For the first time ever I learned about the Chinese Exclusion Act, something that had NEVER come up in the 13 years of history I learned in public schools. I learned how and where to do proper research.
I honestly loved learning it so much that I knew that I wanted to continue my studies in graduate school. That and honestly if you want to get a decent paying job in the history field, you HAVE to get your master’s. Graduate level classes were even MORE awesome as I studied things like the American West, the Guilded Age, the History of Popular Music in the Americas, and Medical History. I also took classes in public history such as Historical Preservation, Museum Studies, and Archives. In case you were wondering my degree is a Master’s Degree in History with a Concentration in Applied History with my focus in American History.
I could go into that argument about how the humanities are still paid low and not very much appreciated. It’s kinda sad at how one can get a PhD in a humanities subject and will never make a ton of money but one has to have a graduate degree to even be considered for certain jobs. But it’s ok.
That’s the history of how I got into history. I love learning about the past because it’s like a bunch of stories and all of them actually happened. Learning about history really can help you learn not to make mistakes in the future though we tend to fail horribly at it. There’s so much more to history than just dates and facts. There’s so much to learn that I know I’ll always be discovering something new every time. Even though I don’t want to teach history, I wish I could somehow make people see that history isn’t boring.