The study of history has long been one of the most intriguing fields of education, owing to the rich, dynamic, and at times, controversial past of humankind. Not only have the events of the past shaped us into being who we are today, but they are also highly relevant, as history is constantly being written, rewritten, contested, and reinterpreted, all over the world. Recorded historical accounts let us look back with nostalgia at how things used to be, critically analyse our observations, and engage them with the present state of affairs, correlating them with plausible possibilities for the future.
History even teaches us a variety of lessons regarding critical aspects of our lives today, with regards to individuals, families, nations, and the global community. As such, it is both a science and an art, binding together the careful analysis of evidence with compelling storytelling. While this makes for the richest of stories, it often tells the saddest and most shocking ones, as well. By painting a vivid picture of people, places, and occurrences, from all walks of time, history helps us know what happened in the past, to help us define what the future may be.
By introducing us to real characters from these stories, which were hailed as models of good and responsible behaviour, History helps us develop our own identity, and teaches us how to learn from the mistakes of others. It also pans the overarching transformation of society, providing us with valuable insights into how they change and develop, over time. Thus, if children are not encouraged to connect with history, the consequences for our society could very well be disastrous. In fact, the more we learn and know about the past, the better prepared we are for the future, as it helps us realise our responsibility towards building a legacy for the generations that follow us.
To this end, movies are an excellent way of ensuring history is both exciting and fun. A number of Hollywood classics like Unbroken, Ben-Hur, Pursuit of Happiness, and The Great Escape, have taught us invaluable lessons about life. The immersive nature and vividness of movies make them even more attractive for children, who realise that historians are actually detectives and chroniclers of the time. This motivates them to explore, not only the world but also themselves, in great detail, as well as search for the intricate clues behind how events in the past, as well as the present, came to being.
In schools, History can be made interesting for students by making it interactive; for instance, organising a skit that students participate in, can be a brilliant way of teaching them about a particular historical incident. They can also be taught about the culture, festivals, and practices, of certain historical communities through a model display that they themselves set up, making the process of learning much less monotonous. Street plays, in-class debates, and other interactive activities can similarly be woven into the curriculum to test and supplement their learnings.
As a result, teaching history to children not only helps build their identities but also improves their decision making and judgment. This makes them more receptive to constructive criticism and feedback, encouraging them to learn from each other’s mistakes, and provides a context from which to understand themselves and others. It also sheds light on the factors behind the change, especially with regards to societal development, so they can participate in healthy discussions about morals and ethics, as well as right and wrong, to better understand the world they live in.
In light of this, the tireless efforts of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), towards preserving the countless art and heritage sites in the country has been of paramount importance. One of the most remarkable non-profit organisations in the country, INTACH is driven by its mission to protect these gems of history, and educate its youth to also take up the responsibility of protecting and preserving it. In addition to this, INTACH also works towards orienting Indian students with the vast and deeply educational history of the country, creating a platform to discuss
The Author is Principal, Global Indian International School, Chinchwad