Wednesday, 15 September 2010

History Is Not Bunk

I read today that History is being phased out of schools because some Heads don’t think it has any value. I want to shout that down straight away. That is rank stupidity.
Apart from any interest in where we came from or how we came to be here, there are fundamental skills that come with History studies. One company I know was run by science graduates who naturally looked to their own. It was a company set up to provide and monitor data from the mobile communications industries and others.  It gives industry forecasts and knowledge to the phone manufacturers, the satellite navigation companies etc.  All very techy and gadget strewn. It employed a lot of young people and many came from international backgrounds, form the far east and elsewhere.
When they were recruiting some years ago they were given a cv from the agency of a young graduate who was competent in spreadsheets and sported a good degree from Oxford, in Modern History.
There was enough in the cv to warrant an interview, They discovered that not only was he competent in basic IT packages – MS Excel, Word and others but of course he could take data, interpret it and produce a report about it that was fluent and well written. Not only that he could do it effortlessly.
When you have been through the mangle of an Oxford history degree with a major presentation and 4000 word essay to do every 10 days, producing an article drawing on data you have before you is not so hard.
It soon became the case that the other members of the team , mostly second language English speakers used to pass their efforts by our junior recruit to correct and check their English and the spellings before submitting for publication approval.
I haven’t identified anyone here but the story is essentially true. That company realised with a bump that History graduates had what they needed. Research skills, and presentational skills plus fluidity of language. Not only could they summarise the data, but they could communicate.
So who says History is a pointless subject? It actually has relevance to research and communication. Marketing of all sorts depends on just those things. Wake up Education World! Our heritage industries depend on an interest in history. We have so much in the UK . There are probably 50 historic sites within an hour’s drive where I live. On a simple level it enriches and gives pleasure to millions. The film industry thrives on it. The tourist industry depends on it. History is not just one thing after another.
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