History (General)

Start Your Free Trial

Importance Of History

Why is it important to study history? Explain your answer. 

Quick Answer

Studying history is important because it allows us to understand our past, which in turn allows us to understand our present. If we want to know how and why our world is the way it is today, we have to look to history for answers. People often say that “history repeats itself,” but if we study the successes and failures of the past, we may, ideally, be able to learn from our mistakes and avoid repeating them in the future. Studying history can provide us with insight into our cultures of origin as well as cultures with which we might be less familiar, thereby increasing cross-cultural awareness and understanding.


Expert Answers info

Murl Larson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write1,582 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

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. For example, one can understand the importance of the social welfare programs if one looks at the Great Depression and New Deal. We can also look back on the Civil Rights movement and see why the United States puts so much effort into creating a system where everyone is equal before the law and has equal access to public amenities. History also allows us to see how the United States gradually created the Constitution after it had just fought a war against a central government that did not care for colonial interests. Without a background in history, one does not appreciate why the Constitution was revolutionary for its time. More broadly, history enables us to understand different cultures.

If those are not good reasons for studying history, one can study history because it allows one to exercise their critical thinking skills. These critical thinking skills are important for all areas in life, academic and otherwise. Historians also write a great deal; a study of history allows one to practice writing for different audiences.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write15,968 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The main reason to study history is so that you find out all of the facts for yourself. If you don't study history, you won't know when someone is misleading you. People always have their own version of the facts. It's important that you know for yourself.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mapriem eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write75 answers

starTop subjects are Science, Social Sciences, and History

It is important to study history so one may learn about past human behavior that is relevant to the intellectual growth and development of an individual. Studying the events of the past gives us an understanding of how the world came to be, not only in your world but around the world, including all human cultures and nature itself. By learning about the causes and effects of events in history, people can learn better ways to deal with conflict among nations and individuals. Studying the history of environmental changes can inspire a healthier lifestyle for mankind, as well as prevent the extinction of plants and animals, which could disturb our ecosystems. Although human behavior is unpredictable at times, a better understanding through the study of history can provide valuable insight for our future generations.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Jasmin Ritchie eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write775 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Law and Politics

I believe the single most important reason to study history is that history teaches us to think. Whether it is American, European, military, art, ancient, modern, religious, or archaeological (and so on), history enables us to contemplate the experiences that came before us. It is true that history is the record of our past; however, I think history is more than time and place. History allows us to think about the greatest question humanity has ever asked: Why...? Finish the question any way you want. Studying history allows humanity to look at its own reflection. We can embrace the reflection (good and bad) and be stronger for it, or we can turn away from our reflection, denying we ever existed at all. Which perspective do you think humanity has a better chance of survival with?

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


millneraa | Student

History is a valuable resource for us in numerous ways. History offers us connections with the people that came before us, and the societies that they developed. These connections allow us to use their experiences both negative and positive to affect our personal and societal development.

Historical connections provide us with identity. Genealogy unites us with our familial history, allowing us to connect with and understand our roots, and those who came before that share our DNA. Occasionally, our individual genealogical history can surprise us with relations we never knew were possible, opening doors to family and culture that we never knew that we were connected with.

Community, Cultural, and World history provide our societies with a framework. We can cultivate an understanding, utilizing history of course; that allows us to further develop as a society, moving forward rather than backward.

Studying history can inform us of the complexities of dealing with adversity in all its forms. We can evaluate the actions, reactions, and culmination of that adversity and use the data to inform our behavior and morality.

History provides us with many examples of good leaders, poor leaders, and societies that rose and fell for myriad reasons. Throughout history we see adequate business people, admirable ones too, we see failure, regret, action, stability, as well as Catastrophe’s, and we take them to heart learning from them in earnest.

rythm | Student

The term “History” was actually derived from the Greek word “historia” which means knowledge that one acquires through investigation or inquiry. History has its importance because:

a. It increases our knowledge of our cultural heritage and our ancestral roots where we originate from. It also enhances knowledge on cross-cultural diversity on an international level.

b.It helps us inculcate moral values as we learn of the courage and diligence of the men and women who portrayed such traits in the past. Besides, we also learn from past mistakes made by our forefathers and avoid repeating them.

c. It helps students develop their research skills and assess sources of information.

d. It educates us about the evolution of man.

So this subject is an important aspect that students must study.

irie1211 | Student

It is important to study history because it helps us understand situations in the present. Looking back at past events helps us shape the present and the future.

nev03-gardner | Student

History, very broadly, is an all life-encompassing subject. Its main focus is on the study of the origins of life and it's consequences on earth, as also the origins of our universe as envisioned by our earliest predecessors, and gradually passed on to their descendants.

According to history scholars, the first period is the pre-history stage. The earliest humans gradually evolved in communication through their actions, sounds and signs to formulate languages. Information was first handed down orally which became legends and then when written language prevailed, history was recorded for posterity.

History is of vital importance to the human race because it primarily recounts the rise and fall of human civilizations. Historians are able to piece together life spans of generations and understand and compare progress and regress for future generations to come, possibly for the future survival of the human race as a whole.

nuangalat | Student

The study of history is important because it helps us understand people and societies.History offers data on information of how people and societies lived and behaved in the past.History helps provide identity.Historical data contains information of how families and even nations were formed and how the evolved while retaining cohesion.For one to be a good citizen,the study of history is essential as it promotes national identity and loyalty.Not only does history contribute to moral understanding,it is also important in our own lives and useful in world of work.

History also helps us explain how systems were put in place in the past and how we relate to them in the present.

dcmc01 | Student

Studying history is important as it helps us to understand moral contemplation. Studying and reading past stories of individuals and their past situations enables the learner to measure his or her own moral values and sense. Students are also inspired as they learn about those who worked hard, suffered, and persevered to bring change to the society. Out of these inspirations they will work hard to achieve their goals in life. Studying history provides identity. This happens when the learners study about the beginning of families, groups, institutions and even the whole country and how they have evolved to sustain changes and cohesion. In America the most obvious importance of studying history is that it provides facts about families and how they have interacted and survived vast historical changes. These changes can happen through climate, technological advancements and many more. As they understand these changes they learn to respond to any kind of change that may arise.

History also provides link with other subjects which has historical backgrounds.(Subjects like economics, social studies, social arts). As they study history they they develop cross carricular skills and interest.

hoesslek | Student

It is important to study history for a litany of reasons. Among the many benefits to the study history the most vital reason of to do so is to identify mistakes of the past to avoid their repetition in the present and future. Through the study of history, citizens, policy makers, and governments as a whole can identify patterns of behaviors and cycles that led to both positive and negative turns in events.

An outstanding example of the practical application of the study of history in our modern times and its usage to avoid a recurring issue is the wreck of the oil tanker the Exxon Valdez. On March 24, 1989 the Exxon Valdez oil tanker collided with a cold water reef in Prince William Sound off the coast of Alaska. The collision of the ship with the reef tore a hole into the single walled hull of the tanker resulting in 10.8 million gallons of crude oil spilling into the waters of Prince William Sound and what is to this day still considered one of the worst environmental disasters in history. However, through the study of the historical events and policies that led to the wreck and subsequent environmental issues, new laws and policies were put into place to prevent a similar incident from reoccurring; one such policy now requires that all tankers carrying hazardous materials such as oil are required to have double reinforced hulls.

The wreck of the Exxon Valdez is a small example of the ways in which the study of historical events and the actions leading up to them can be analyzed and applied to prevent similar events from ever happening again. Studying and analyzing the events of the pasts allows for us as individuals and communities to make informed decisions about the present to avoid recreating the problems of our past.

ren100 | Student

History refers to the study of past events in relation to human affairs. It is important to study history because as people live in the present, they tend to worry about the future. Nonetheless, past events help in foretelling and shaping the future. By studying history, we get to learn and understand change and how the society we live in came to be. History offers a deep-rooted knowledge on the existence and change in our society. By learning history, we gain a better understanding of our cultures and traditions since it contributes to moral comprehension. Studying the historical array of events and individuals who lived in the past with diverse characters and behaviors helps us gain lessons on life issues and skills. In addition, history provides information that has evidence about our families, institutions and our country as a whole, how they were formed and evolved over time, and we can only understand such information by studying it. Lastly, studying history is essential for good citizenship as it helps people to be loyal to their country through patriotism.

thejourney | Student

History is the foundation of newer generations if it is documented. It carries along knowledge that allows future generations to understand the past and build on it the constructive way. As such, future generations learn from past mistakes, past successes and evaluate whether history should repeat itself or not. History is an essence from generations to generations. The issue that might surround an historical knowledge, is its credibility. Meanwhile, the benefits of acquiring an historical knowledge whether credible or not, outweighs the damages of disregarding it. For a knowledge to be considered historical, there has to be a at least, a slight truth about the situation that it is about. For instance, there are speculations about who really discovered America, but the reality about such a speculation is that, America has been discovered by other civilizations.

dawnbandoricksmith | Student

Studying history is an important endeavor when attempting to understand our past, present, and future. As we grapple with current events of political, cultural, and ethical importance, methodically studying human history helps us to develop our knowledge leading to informed solutions to problems. The study of history is not only critical to gathering knowledge of facts such as dates, but to help develop critical thinking skills.

Placing value on the study of history assists students of any age to consider reflectively the contemporary culture and world. Without informed thought, the same mistakes are made repeatedly and the same solutions continue to evolve. Unfortunately, without critical analysis of history the solutions are often only temporary. The study of history is essential in any attempt to truly understand our place in the world.

nicoleoudinhikk | Student

History is one of the most important subjects for all students. It does not matter what you intend to do to make money, knowing and understanding what happened in the past can you understand what is happening now, how things will work out, and what the future may hold. As an individual, you know that others can understand your views or opinions better if they understand who you are personally. The same goes for understanding other cultures, economic systems, and political structures. In today's global market, this will help you professional as you will be interacting with people from all over the world. However, this is only one benefit. Another benefit of know history is so you can understand why things are happening in our society today. For example, the American housing market bust of 2008 can be compared to Black Monday of 1929. First, you identify the parallels between why the crashes occurred, the amount of people affected, and the effect on society and the economic system. After there is an understanding as to how this has happened before in history, you can look to see how America recovered from it in the past and devise ways to help America recover from the housing market. You can also better understand why certain efforts are being tried, and other recovery programs avoided if you see the failure and success of the implementation previously. Although this list is not exhaustive of all of the benefits of knowing your history, the last one that I will mention is the ability to be a Jeopardy champ! Knowing history helps you learn geography, political figures of the past, as well as have a small understanding of the advent of many things in modern society. All of which can provide a wealth of knowledge for you to pull from when playing the game.

mgnwtsn | Student

It is important to study history because historical knowledge provides empowering, relevant, and practical counsel for present day people and events. When we turn to the past, we find examples of what communities can achieve when they collaborate on solutions to propel humanity forward during times of harrowing hardship – an ongoing reality shared across generations. While there are differing perspectives of how history should be taught and learned, studying history is an opportunity to strengthen essential critical thinking skills by challenging us to analyze multiple sources of information, separate fact from opinion/bias, and to synthesize our learning into an educated position. This is an empowering and practical competence to have in any area of study. And because no new day starts without yesterday shaping its existence, possessing historical knowledge allows us to better understand multiple timelines influencing current events, heightening our social consciousness. Therefore, when historical inquiry is taken beyond the stereotype of being a memorization game of dates, names, and places, it possesses the power to greatly influence both our present and future experiences.

flo-254 | Student

Earlier leaders believed that those who had a good grasp of certain historical facts were more educated. They stood a better chance of being admitted into law schools or even business promotion. Even today, history holds an essential part in our society and the beauty of studying history is that it enables us to understand people, societies, and various cultures. The only way we can fully understand human behavior is through the study of history. This knowledge of how societies function helps us run our own lives. History helps us better understand ourselves, where we come from and appreciate our legacies.

The second reason is that history helps us understand our present and shapes our future. When we study history and learn about shocking atrocities that were committed and the events that led up to them such as the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, we avoid going down the same path. Of course, we all understand that history repeats itself so others mistakes in the past serve as a lesson for us. Humans learn from the past.

A third fundamental reason is that the study of history sharpens our mental faculties. Modern innovations such as the automobile are as a result of the study of history. For instance, the Henry Ford spent 15 years testing horseless carriages before pioneering the model T motor car in 1908. History enables us to creatively use our thinking abilities.

It is impossible to exhaust all the reasons why it is important to study history. But the fact remains that we cannot escape from our past. History is what defines us giving us a clear understanding of the world around us. Besides, isn't it just fascinating to preserve the inspiring stories of those who lived in the past and pass them down to the next generation?

habrown | Student

To study history is important to the survival of humanity. It has been said before by the philosopher George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Without a recording of history, how can those living understand how society thought in the past, why they did what they did, and the impact those choices made in the immediate aftermath and even today? To ignore history and not study it is to ignore some great lessons that could improve the future. 

Learn history and you will see the patterns emerge. You will see people of the past who did not remember history and therefore made the same mistakes as the people before them. History is important in that it reveals all of the past. It is there for you to study and learn from so that the future can be improved upon. 

phzanelato | Student

"A people who do not know their history are fated to repeat it."

user238781 | Student

Why to study history; to know yourself, to know your world, to know others. Is that what you are asking, cause that's what I am! 

al1gfala | Student

It is important because history helps you understand the past to predict the future and help in creating it.

hawraaghandour | Student

Studying history gives us wide opportunities to get better understanding of our past experiences to count on the  great achievements and avoid the horrific mistakes. It allows us to think critically about our present situations to take decisions for our future. understanding history helps us avoid repeating the mistakes over and over again. The more we study history , the wiser we become. Doomed are those who can't interpret history well.

Images:
This image has been Flagged as inappropriate Click to unflag
Image (1 of 1)
melissamorghan | Student

we should study history because we can get a better understanding of a country  or place

kingkhangkool | Student

It helps you understand what has happened in the past.

newlandsgirlsschool | Student

history is good it is  a persumentive of life and help u do da right thing

lexil0 | Student

Studying history is important because it allows us to see societal patterns. Throughout history there have been both great successes and horrific failures. As the saying goes "those who are unfamiliar with their history, are bound to repeat it". Studying history allows us to build on our accomplishments and learn from our mistakes. History all puts life into perspective. It allows individuals to see where they came from which better allows them to situate themselves in their own lives. 

moralesmilet | Student

Studying the history is very important...it will teach us to be satisfied and thankful for whatever we have now..if you look back the way our ancestors live, you will be thankful.. for your life is easier and more comfortable now.

dacutewarriorkitten | Student

I'm sorry, it really dosen't matter to me. My teacher just makes it so boring it makes me want to burn every history text book in the world. I hope this makes you laugh :) .

purity-omwega | Student

History as a subject enables us to know about our origins,appreciate our cultures as well as others and also helps us to know why things are the way they are.it has also became a field of study hence people are able to get careers and make a living.In short we can be able to reconstruct the past through studying History....

hermy27 | Student

One of the greatest benefits of studying history is that it allows us a chance to learn about who we came from.  The people of the past are those who came before us, and it is interesting to see how some of the thoughts, attitudes, and practices of today can differ so drastically from those throughout history.  On the other side of that coin, it can be fun to learn about ideas that began 100 years ago that are still a modern day issue.  An example of this would be to look back at the suffragettes of the early 20th century who paved the way for the modern day equal rights movement.  They were fighting to make sure that women could be treated as equal citizens of our country, including the right to vote, own property, or hold credit.  In fact, it wasn't until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 that women were allowed to possess a credit card in their own names (not attached to a father or husband's account).  The equal rights movement is still a current hot topic 100 years later.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
kevin0001 | Student

It is important to study history because you would get to learn about our world and it's past. History can show you a lot about past human civilization, successes in the past, great ancestors, failures and disasters, and so much more about the past. You would be more aware about the world and much smarter if you learned about history. If you don't learn about history you might repeat the past mistakes in history.

Wiggin42 | Student

Whether to study History or not is not a question at all. As a human we should know or have a curiosity to who was our ancestors? How did they live? what did they do in this world? It reveals not only our past but how we can design our future in a better way. There are valuable lessons in analyzing our past to figure out the future outcome without paying a huge price for it.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
laurto | Student

History is really important because it helps us understand why we live the way we are living and why we are where we are as a species and country. Studying history allow to learn from the mistakes of our ancestors so we do not do the same things they did and work to become a better place. It allows us from repeating the same mistakes and allows us to avoid worse results than those seen in the past. 

acompanioninthetardis | Student

History teaches us to learn from our mistakes and past experiences. it allows us to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. 

parama9000 | Student

Sorry it is think and question.

parama9000 | Student

It allows for people to thunk and question whether one's culture's actions ethical,  moral etc.

Yojana_Thapa | Student

It is crucial to study history because history is the answer for how this world came to be. History teaches us lessons learned from previous mistakes. It teaches us what this country should do and shouldn't do. Because we know the consequences already. This says it all, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it".

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
epollock | Student

The most obvious reason is so that we don't make the same mistakes in the past and are able to avoid them by choosing more postive courses of action. It is almost as if we are doomed to destroy ourselves.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
inaamethyst | Student

I'd like to share my opinion for the question why is it important to study history.

It is important to study history

-It keeps us aware on how our ancestors lived during their time, on how they managed their living.During their time,there's no any machines that they can use like us now.

-It gives us information on how a person came to be,or how a thing started.

-If we do not have history,our mind will be conscious on how God created us,how did our nation came to be,or what's the reason of God why He created us,why are we here now?

Those questions and so many more are not going to be answered without history. 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
jillyfish | Student

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ask a Question