This post originally appeared on the blog Education with DocRunning as part of the bi-monthly Social Sundays feature.
 
Students ask why we have to study history – A LOT. I have lots of ideas about reasons to study history, but I’d rather have students figure it out.

I asked my students why we study history (hoping that they'd found some value after a year in my class). To my delight, they were full of opinions.
At the close of last year, I asked my students why we study history (hoping they’d found at least some value in history after a year in my class). Much to my delight, they were full of opinions.
 
Among the responses:
 
I asked my students why we study history (hoping that they'd found some value after a year in my class). To my delight, they were full of opinions.
  • “It’s cool to learn about life in other cultures. They are kind of like us but also not like us. I mean we aren’t that different when you really think about it.”
  • “History can be kind of repetitive. I mean, after the Civil War, the north were angry so they punished the south.  After World War I, the Allies were angry so they punished Germany, who was resentful which definitely contributed to World War II. So, history teaches us about a lot of mistakes that have been made that we should try not to do again.”
  • “History helps us see why things are the way they are. There’s still a lot of hate and racism in the world, but if you look back, we’ve come along way. It makes you feel hopeful. So, we know how we got to where we are.”

About 99% of my inspiration comes from my students, and this time was no different. As I looked toward the end of the year, it was time to put my students’ vocal opinions about their education to a test. I challenged my students to develop persuasive posters (advertisements) for the subject of history. The posters could show the value and opportunities in the social sciences or how events and people of the past can teach us about today. I knew from our previous discussion that my students had opinions, and I simply asked them to use those opinions to persuade others. This activity was a wonderful opportunity for students to channel that energy. 

I asked my students why we study history (hoping that they'd found some value after a year in my class). To my delight, they were full of opinions.Most students made posters. A couple of ambitious groups put together video advertisements. 

And as a bonus, when I opened the school year this year, I had a wealth of visuals to answer that endless question: Why do we study history?! Last year, we made posters at the beginning of the year and did a second set at the end of the year. It was quite telling to see what the students discovered and valued about history by the end of my course.

Create your own project to get students thinking about why history is important, or find this ready-to-use activity here.

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Education with DocRunningI asked my students why we study history (hoping that they'd found some value after a year in my class). To my delight, they were full of opinions. is a secondary teacher who puts students at the center of her teaching.  From inner-city schools to gifted programs, she has experience teaching 6th – 12th grade.  She holds a Master’s in Education and a PhD in Education Policy. And of course, she runs daily.  Sign up to hear about the latest in free resources and save 20% on new resources.  You can also visit the blog, Facebook Page, Pinterest, and Store.