WHY STUDY HISTORY
Historical study serves at least three important functions:
1. To endow students with the knowledge and skills needed to participate effectively in public affairs;
2. To prepare students for the world of work;
3. To enrich students’ lives by fostering personal morale, dignity, and a commitment to others.
A society without a collective memory of its past cannot make informed decisions about its future. Historical study teaches students to take a “long view” of the problems that plague our society and the world, and to arrive at a more sophisticated understanding of the means by which such problems might be solved. In a democratic society, such as the United States of America, governmental efficiency depends in large part on the ability of citizens to weigh policy options against the experience of the past. Historical study also provides students with knowledge and skills that are indispensable in the workplace. Careers such as journalism, law, politics, international affairs, and business require some level of historical knowledge. Historical thinking skills, such as the ability to use a variety of data sources to form conclusions, are also applicable to the modern workplace, where employers now seek individuals who can engage in systematic modes of thinking.
Perhaps the most important function of historical study is the enrichment of the students’ understanding of the present in light of the past. History presents the compelling story of the human experience and provides students with many opportunities to identify with the struggles of past peoples. History enables students to see their place in the flow of time, their connection to the past, and their responsibility to future generations. This sense of belonging promotes personal morale, integrity, and dignity-qualities that contribute to productive work and responsible citizenship.
In New Jersey, high school students begin a more intensive study of history, practicing and learning to use the six cognitive skills referenced. All students must complete a legally required two-year course in United States and New Jersey History, including African-American history (NJSA 18A:35-12).
1. Learning Chronological Thinking
2. Developing Historical Comprehension
3. Learning to Do Historical Analysis and Interpretation
4. Developing Historical Research Capabilities
5. Developing the Capacity for Empathic Thinking
6. Learning to Analyze Historical Issues and Decision-Making
PERIOD 1- PREP