Historian William H. McNeill, in an essay commissioned by the American Historical Association, argues that the study of history is necessary for people to be worthwhile citizens of a country as well as valuable human beings. McNeill compares history education to memory and explains that without the knowledge of where people have been in the past, they cannot have an identity or effectively interact with others in the present.
Preparing Students for the Future
UCLA’s National Center for History in the Schools argues that history education is the “precondition of political intelligence.” Students who study history are better prepared to handle current-day problems, and by understanding past decisions, students can be aware of different choices and the benefits and consequences of each decision. Studying history also improves critical thinking skills because it requires students to analyze and make arguments about events and support their opinions with evidence.
History also teaches students about cultures around the globe. Students might notice similarities between various nations and their own as well as how others' lives differ from their way of life. It is important for students to learn about recent history as well as institutions founded thousands of years ago because it allows them to understand the evolution of humankind and how far people have come.
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