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Why study history


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Why study history

  1. 2. <ul><li>Gives us a sense of identity – imagine waking up one morning to discover you have lost your memory </li></ul><ul><li>Is a defence against propaganda – countries may try to ‘spin’ history to serve their interests. </li></ul><ul><li>Enriches our understanding of human nature – shows what humans have done in a wide variety of circumstances. </li></ul>
  2. 4. <ul><li>The past no longer exists – extreme skepticism </li></ul><ul><li>OR </li></ul><ul><li>Because it no longer exists it cannot be changed and is therefore completely objective. </li></ul><ul><li>Both positions are problematic </li></ul><ul><li>However an element of objectivity has to be assumed otherwise we will never know the difference between history, propaganda and fiction. </li></ul><ul><li>The question is how do historians approach with objectivity. </li></ul>
  3. 6. <ul><li>Written or drawn by someone who was there at the time. </li></ul>
  4. 7. <ul><li>A later second hand account of what happened. </li></ul>
  5. 8. <ul><li>Imagine several diarists are witness to the same historical events. We would probably end up with as many different accounts as there are writers. </li></ul><ul><li>People don’t see things in the same way. </li></ul><ul><li>Perceptions are shaped by interests, expectations, and cultural background. </li></ul><ul><li>Emotion and prejudice also colours the way we see things. </li></ul>
  6. 9. <ul><li>Primary and secondary sources sometimes reflect the interests of a particular group rather than society as a whole. </li></ul><ul><li>Eg Medieval Europe may be perceived as a very religious time in history. </li></ul><ul><li>What is the problem here? </li></ul>
  7. 10. <ul><li>Governments manipulating primary sources to change the facts of history. </li></ul>
  8. 11. <ul><li>In trying to establish the truth of the past historians try to recognise bias. </li></ul><ul><li>They will ask questions of authenticity like – who wrote it? What was their motive? How long after the event was it written? </li></ul><ul><li>Primary sources can be compared Eg If a Palestinian eye witness agreed with an Israeli eye witness account – It will probably be reliable. </li></ul>
  9. 12. <ul><li>The historian will have to make a selection from all the available evidence. </li></ul><ul><li>Our knowledge of the past is filtered first through the eyes of the those that witnessed it and secondly through the eyes of the historian who wrote about it. </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding the dangers of bias etc help the historian to compensate for this. </li></ul>
  10. 13. <ul><li>Is history more prone to bias than the natural sciences? </li></ul>
  11. 14. <ul><li>A historians choice of topic may be influenced by current preoccupations and the questions that they ask – or fail to ask – are likely to influence the answers they find. The topic itself may be influenced by the society the historian has grown up in. </li></ul>
  12. 15. <ul><li>A historian might be tempted to appeal only to evidence that supports his own case and to ignore any counter-evidence. </li></ul>
  13. 16. <ul><li>Since people come to history with a range of pre existing cultural and political prejudices, they may find it difficult to deal objectively with sensitive issues that touch on things like national pride. </li></ul><ul><li>Eg To what extent were ordinary Germans aware of the Holocaust? </li></ul>
  14. 17. <ul><li>Despite the fact that history no longer exists, history seeks to reconstruct it on the basis of evidence that can be found in the present. </li></ul><ul><li>Many interpretations of the past exist and trying to determine which one is best is a matter of judgement rather than proof. </li></ul>
  15. 18. <ul><li>Use handout to read through and empahsize the points of the lesson. </li></ul>