Why history matters so much

Why is history such an important school subject? And why does it not receive the importance it deserves? These two were among the major questions debated at a conference recently held in Kolkata. A brief answer to the second question is that history cannot compete with science subjects in the market that shapes and controls education today. Yet, history is an important subject because it moulds the outlook of the younger generation. By turning the past into a narrative, history creates a public ethos and influences culture. From architecture to film, and from ancient India to Partition, the Kolkata conference, organised by the History for Peace initiative of the Seagull Foundation for the Arts, covered a broad canvas to trace the complex relationship between history and culture. I can think of few other gatherings where school teachers got a chance to discuss their classroom experience with scholars of history and culture. The outcome was a richer understanding of the constraints that a poorly functioning system of education places on a society’s capacity to cope with its present difficulties and imagine sustainable solutions. Debates over texts The history syllabus and textbooks have been at the heart of a deep political controversy in India. India is not alone in this respect. No country in the world is immune to debates about the past and how it should be presented to school children. To take just two instances, America’s discomfort with Hiroshima and Britain’s discomfort with Gandhi continue to be reflected in their school syllabi.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/why-history-matters-so-much/article24765164.ece

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