The above video is by the “Groovy Historian,” a master’s degree (Turkish studies) student from the UK who in the last year has thrown himself enthusiastically into promoting history, historical subjects and interesting historical anecdotes in an entertaining, pop-culture-friendly way. The Groovy dude has been making videos recently on various topics, but here are his thoughts on a very important question, and one that we don’t consider nearly often enough: why should we even study history at all?
Personally I find this existential question one of the most important ones to ask. I teach history at the college level, and in addition to certain assumptions about how history works that many of my students bring into class on the first day, I’ve found that there is considerable confusion on the basic matter of, what’s the point? The importance of history is by no means self-evident, though professional historians can probably be forgiven for thinking that it is (or should be). Why should we care about what happened in the past? What possible relevance does it have to us?
The answer: a lot. In fact, I would say history is probably the most important thing that students should study in a basic education regimen. I won’t get on my soap box about why, because that’s what this video is here to explain. But it’s a question worth asking, and one I hope will continue to be asked by every generation of students that walks into a classroom.