History lessons are till date considered as one of the most boring lessons by students and even parents. In countries like Pakistan, history is not even part of curriculum for most schools. One of the most common perception of students is that learning history offers no benefits for their future and is only memorized in form of dates, characters and events to pass the exams. In short, history is boring! Therefore, the question arises that why we study it and what purpose it will serve in future?
Most of us shared the same view about history when we were young, however, as we grow old, we become more interested in events from the past whether they are political, warfare related or Islamic civilization. We dive into the events of World War I and II or the Cold War anytime someone discusses Russia or USA; or Islamic warfare on every Muharram to debate among our peers. These changes often come from the daily events around us, the conversations we have with intellectuals over dinners or in office or a simple argument with friends. The more we search for past events related to our present, the more we realize who we are and where we come from.
History makes children smarter and responsible citizens
As learned adults, it is more of a revelation that it is significant to understand history and how human civilization has evolved overtime. Understanding of our past makes us realize how we have reached our present while mistakes made in past make us realize what our future line of action should be. Children today are more exposed to multi cultures, religions and values which puts burden of more responsibility on them.
Come to think of this as children being the stewards of this planet. Their lack of knowledge regarding the survival of humans in past, their mistakes, their successes, their development and their destruction can be devastating for future of this planet. While Pakistanis in general lack the approach to inculcate history in educational curriculum, parents today should consider it as an essential part of child education.
Why is learning about history more significant in today’s world?
“The More you know about the Past, the Better you are prepared for the Future” (Theodore Roosevelt)
We cannot emphasize enough on how a significant aspect of education such as history is ignored in curriculum of Pakistani schools. With world coming close to regional and international disturbances in form of Middle East region devastation, shift in world order under emergence of China as superpower, climate change, technology revolution and horrific episode of Covid-19, the significance of learning history has become even more obvious. No one wants a generation of socially distant, self-absorbed, racially and status-wise divided and most of all unlearned lot of youngsters as leaders of tomorrow.
The online access to information and books provides a great opportunity for educationists and parents to create a knowledgeable population base that can learn from the historic events in past and thus, become better decision makers for future. Instead of just being nostalgic glimpses of past, history can teach children what things are important to make future better.
Children who are aware of historic events and legacies are better leaders as they can understand consequences of behaviors and actions. Moreover, history makes children appreciate their present facilities, rights, diversity in communities and national and personal independence.
History makes students better learners and responsible citizens as they understand role of communities and individuals in shaping nations. As citizen, children with historic knowledge are also better evaluators of requirements of societies and significance of societal aspects like education, technology, skills and morality to progress and therefore, they are even better voters.
How to make history interesting for children?
Rudyard Kipling, a famous poet and novelist once said, “If history were taught in form of stories, it would never be forgotten”.
There is a swift transformation in learning paradigm today with absorption of information through social media, videos, twitter, Facebook and educational apps. History books in library are no longer most effective source of developing interest of children in history and can be extremely dull for overstimulated kids today. Based on suggestions of several modern day enthusiastic educationists and historians, following methods should be adopted by parents to share history lessons with children while keeping it interesting.
- Visual and Multimedia forums: The immense success of historic series like ‘Ertugrul’ among youngsters in Pakistan is enough evidence to suggest how movies and dramas can develop interest of children in history. Several Hollywood movies and international dramas and documentaries on World Wars, Afghan Wars, 9/11 incident, Pakistan/India Separation, Holocaust and many other events can be a good start to indulge children in more informative sources before moving on to more authentic sources like history books. Similarly, YouTube channels like Stories of the Prophets, Knowledgia, World in a Nutshell etc are other interesting sources that provide gist of history to children in a more engaging way.
- Bedtime History Stories: Using the old yet most effective formats of storytelling with phrases like ‘Once Upon a Time’, parents can grab children’s imagination and attention for more useful and real stories from the past. The past events are full of tales of brave soldiers, powerful kings and their armies, saviors of the planet and its oppressed natives, caring husbands and loving fathers, revolutionary women, educationists and nation builders. It is only the approach of telling these stories which makes its boring or exciting. Thus, given the shorter span of attention and over stimulation of brains of today’s generation, stories should be used to teach history to children.
- Illustrated Books and Apps: Illustrated books with bold and colorful images are another great resource to make children understand history in a fun and simple way with easy language. Allow children to ask questions about concepts and cultures of past that might interfere with their current beliefs and norms of society. Lastly, keep yourself updated about history lessons that you provide to your children in order to add other authentic information to their concise knowledge.