Historical Thinking


I know quite a few people who don't like history. Either they deem it as unnecessary, or they're frustrated by how convoluted, ambivalent, and honestly, confusing history is.

I get that. For a long time, history was, for me, the most useless thing out there. Why should I care about that one stupid king who ruled my country centuries ago? He's not here now, so I won't care.

Probably, I'd still have this mindset if not for my history teacher, Mr. Bartek. He was genius. Or, rather, he could tell stories very well. He made it all interesting within itself. I got hooked. I didn't see the connections, the conclusions, but at least I was interested in the stories themselves. It was like reading good fiction books (which I loved to read at the time), but real.

Only much later, I started to see history as a whole. I have terribly good photographic memory (there are downsides to this, too), so I always remembered historical dates. And so, I could see history on a timeline, chronologically, in my mind. Everything started to gain context. Things that happened weren't just things. They were history, the chain of events that led us to where we are now, at this very moment.

There's incredible value in applying historical thinking to any field. Seeing things in context, on a timeline, analyzing the causes, the consequences. I'd say that this even applies to fields as abstract as mathematics, logic. One thing that always pissed me off while being taught maths at school was that they just showed numbers and things we could do with them. But, since we were always doing one section of the textbook at the time, there was no context. Just numbers. I never learned the connections. How different mathematical processes developed, based on already existing knowledge.

Nothing exists without context. No one is alone in their existence.

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