Why do we study History and other liberal arts? How can you kindle your child’s interest in History, and guide her if she wants to explore this subject? And what career opportunities does this subject provide? We speak to different history enthusiasts for the answers
SUBHADRA SEN GUPTA Author & history buff Why History? History gives us our identity, our lives, our roots. What would we be if we didn’t have a family history? It is from where our hopes, dreams and aspirations begin. Also, it teaches us what’s right and wrong, if we are willing to learn the lesson. If today there are no colonies, no slavery and if no one has dropped an atom bomb after Hiroshima, it’s because we have learnt from it by studying History. Without the knowledge of history, we cannot progress. Let me give you an example. When our leaders sat down to frame India’s Constitution, 10 ParentCircle / March 2014
they first studied the Constitution of other countries. If they didn’t know the history of these countries, they wouldn’t have done so. Take Gandhiji’s satyagraha, ahimsa and religious tolerance that gave us freedom – it began with his knowledge of Jainism, Ashoka and Akbar. He then inspired Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, who used non-violent protests with great success.
Difficult curriculum Actually, quite a large number of children like History. I know, because I meet children all the time at schools. They find the curriculum difficult. The problem is that History is taught badly in our schools. Our
textbooks are difficult, and children need to absorb many facts. When you recreate a civilization that goes back 5,000 years, it does get complicated. Children may dislike the subject in school, but they love historical fiction, films and TV serials. History is about people and when we tell stories, children love it. ‘Ideal’ way to teach history In India, our textbooks are developed by university professors who are not in touch with children and are full of theories about what children ‘must know’ without any sense of what they like or how much they can comprehend. If textbooks are developed by school teachers in collaboration with writers, illustrators