Why Students Should Read a Work of History in High School

Will Fitzhugh, via a kind email:

(was a literature major in college, and only came to read history seriously afterwards. No one emphasized the benefits of history when I was in school. And I realize that the appreciation of history is a bit cumulative. That is, when a student first reads history she doesn’t know who these people are or what they are doing or why that might be important to know.

Teachers have to assume some responsibility for expressing their assurance that history is not only interesting but also essential—that is, if they are aware of that themselves. Things go slow in learning any new language. Students can’t love French poetry or Chinese philosophy right away. They have to work to learn the language basics first.

That goes for history as well. But after reading history for a few years, people and events come to be more familiar, and the chronology turns out to be no more difficult and perhaps even more interesting than irregular verbs.