In Alan Bennett's play, The History Boys, one of the students refers to the line, attributed to Arnold Toynbee, that history is "just one damn thing after another." This idea encapsulates the worst aspect of traditional history-teaching, in which students memorized lists of battles and the names of great men. This type of history really was simply a dry, dull list of things that had happened in chronological order.
To study history, rather than merely to memorize lists of battles, however, is to look into the causes of and relationships between important events. Historians do not merely record what took place, but try to work out why. This is why the study of history includes historiography and philosophical theories of history. It also includes epistemology. Historians weigh different types of evidence in a forensic manner, trying to establish which accounts are reliable and corroborated.
The study of history, therefore, is important both because it helps students to understand the past, and therefore the present, and because it teaches vital skills for discovering the truth. In addition to these points, history is an inevitable part of every other academic discipline. Scientists study the history of science, literary scholars study the history of literature. An in-depth understanding of any subject requires the study of history.