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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Module 1: History as a Discipline


1. What is history? What are its uses?

History is a systematic study of written records of the past, including the prehistory of man. History is a story of recorded events, (in chronological order), including the development and behavior of people; a written account of cultural and natural phenomena; something that belongs to the past; and one that is no longer worth consideration. History in the hands of the historian becomes a form of literature. That means history has an objective and a subjective element. In the hands of the historian, the study and recording of history is an attempt to give meaning to our past, present, and future. In this way, a good historian draws us into a personal relationship with the past, allowing us to grow and learn from it. As a discipline, history is the study of the past. In other words, historians study and interpret the past. In order to do this, they must find evidence about the past, ask questions of that evidence, and come up with explanations that make sense of what the evidence says about the peoples, events, places, and time periods under consideration. Because it is impossible for a single historian to study the history of all peoples, events, places, and time periods, historians develop specialties within the discipline.

History is important because the past held valuable lessons of how to succeed and how to avoid costly mistakes. History gave us insight into who we are, who we can be, and a sense of our identity. Our view of the past affects how we respond to our present circumstances. If our view of history is wrong, we are likely to make wrong choices today. These wrong choices will lead to further conflicts and a waste of resources that can eventually lead to the fall of an entire civilization.

It is said that experience is the best teacher. Still, our learning would be very narrow if we profited only from our own experiences. Through the study of history, we make other people’s experiences our own. History teaches judgment. It does this both by supplying a knowledgeable background and by training in the technique of criticism and reasoned conclusions.

2. How do we write history?

Historical writing, like history itself, is a vast and varied subject. It has gone on in every society and every age since the dawn of civilization. It is the production of records as part of the events themselves. These first-hand documents- the writings and utterance of leaders; the notes of eyewitnesses; the letters, diaries, and recollections of participants- are the primary sources of history. Next come the efforts to compile and systematize the record in chronicles and yearbooks, followed by the books and articles written on the basis of intensive research to find out how and why events happened as they did. Finally, there are works written specifically for reference or instructional purposes-encyclopedia articles, handbooks, and textbooks-whose purpose is to draw from the record in order to present a clears and convenient picture to the learner. Most of the time an historical narrative will be organized chronologically, with the sections determines by the important happenings.

Historical method is the process of critically examining and analyzing the records and survivals of the past. First step is the selection of the subject for investigation. Next, is the collection of probable sources of information on that subject. Third, is the examination of those sources for genuine and lastly the extraction of credible particulars from the sources. Historiography is the writing process of history. It is the imaginative reconstruction of the past from the date derived by that process.

3. How would you compare/ contrast history with other social sciences?

History- based primarily on facts rather than on imagination and feeling unlike humanities, literature, arts and philosophy; it tries to explain by particular description rather than by general analysis and laws; its aim is to depict the significant historical individual or situation in all its living detail; it is defined by its focused on time but it also has the characteristic of embracing all aspects of human activity as they occurred in the past; it is able to serve as the discipline that integrates the specialized work of other fields of social science; it is a study of the facts of man's social existence, which is essentially the common denominator of the social sciences; bears close relations to all the particular social sciences and is really no more different from them in concept, method and material than they are among each other.

Geography and political science: are the fields most intimately related to history to the extent of inevitable interpenetration and overlapping.

Geography- studies the terrestrial setting in which history has occurred, sets the spatial dimension of historical events and endeavors to explain the relation between land forms and resources on the one hand and man's historical accomplishments on the other.

Political science - endeavors to explain analytically and systematically the same vast range of political data and events that constitute a major portion of our historical experience.

Economics, sociology, anthropology and psychology: deal with more specialized approaches or realms of experience.

Economics- deals with relations of production and exchange expressed by money.

Sociology- deals with the web of informal as well as formal relationships among people

Anthropology- deals with the patterns of behavior and belief that distinguish particular societies.

Psychology- deals with thought, emotion and behavior from the standpoint of the individual human behavior.

The only basic difference between history and the other social sciences is that social sciences take individuals and events, study the qualities they have in common and arrive at general laws about human affairs, whereas history is the study of a unique sequence of individuals, events, situations, ideas and institutions, occurring in the one-dimensional and irreversible stream of time.

4. What can history tell you?

Everything that exists in the present has come out of the past, and no matter how new and unique it seems to be, it carries some of the past with it. Everything has a history. At least part of the answer to any question about the contemporary world can come from studying the circumstances that led up to it. The more we understand about the past influences, the more we will know about the present subject to which they are related.

Indeed, most people are curious. In fact, children are always asking their parents the question "why" of things. Because everything has a history, most questions can be answered, at least in part, by historical investigation. Though our questions could go on forever, the answers are written somewhere in the record of the past. The record of the past is not only contained in musty volumes on library shelves; it is all around us in museums, historical preservations, and the antique furnishings and utensils contained in almost every household. Our minds are living museums because the ideas we hold come down to us by way of a long historical journey. Though we are usually unaware of it, the past and the history is always with us. Because history is literally at our fingertips, we can travel back into it without difficulty.


1. What approach would you use in studying history?

Transformative Learning Approach is one approach to better understand and interpret history. Through transformative learning, students learn in more experiential way and it is based more on experiences. Using this approach would help students to express their own idea and give out their own interpretation about certain things. In this way, they are able to learn new things in more understandable way because they relate what they study in their own knowledge. There is also what we call "Guided Participation" in which the teacher guides the student as they study about certain things such as history. Unlike the ordinary way of teaching wherein teachers talk and students listen, students may raise up a question and answer them accordingly. There is a pattern in transformative learning which helps the students to gain more knowledge and apply what they have learned.

2. What Skills Does a Student of History Develop?

The Ability to Assess Evidence
. The study of history builds experience in dealing with and assessing various kinds of evidence—the sorts of evidence historians use in shaping the most accurate pictures of the past that they can. Learning how to interpret the statements of past political leaders—one kind of evidence—helps form the capacity to distinguish between the objective and the self-serving among statements made by present-day political leaders.
Learning how to combine different kinds of evidence—public statements, private records, numerical data, visual materials—develops the ability to make coherent arguments based on a variety of data. This skill can also be applied to information encountered in everyday life.

The Ability to Assess Conflicting Interpretations. Learning history means gaining some skill in sorting through diverse, often conflicting interpretations. Understanding how societies work—the central goal of historical study—is inherently imprecise, and the same certainly holds true for understanding what is going on in the present day. Learning how to identify and evaluate conflicting interpretations is an essential citizenship skill for which history, as an often-contested laboratory of human experience, provides training. This is one area in which the full benefits of historical study sometimes clash with the narrower uses of the past to construct identity. Experience in examining past situations provides a constructively critical sense that can be applied to partisan claims about the glories of national or group identity. The study of history in no sense undermines loyalty or commitment, but it does teach the need for assessing arguments, and it provides opportunities to engage in debate and achieve perspective.

Experience in Assessing Past Examples of Change. Experience in assessing past examples of change is vital to understanding change in society today—it's an essential skill in what we are regularly told is our "ever-changing world." Analysis of change means developing some capacity for determining the magnitude and significance of change, for some changes are more fundamental than others. Comparing particular changes to relevant examples from the past helps students of history develop this capacity. The ability to identify the continuities that always accompany even the most dramatic changes also comes from studying history, as does the skill to determine probable causes of change. Learning history helps one figure out, for example, if one main factor—such as a technological innovation or some deliberate new policy—accounts for a change or whether, as is more commonly the case, a number of factors combine to generate the actual change that occurs.


1. How can we use history in our lives?

People live in the present. They plan for and worry about the future. History, however, is the study of the past. Perhaps the most significant role of history in our lives is how it can serve as a teacher. History, as we know it, involves many pros and cons. Through it, we can learn how to live better, more effectively, based on how the past events happened. We apply these learnings through history and use it as a guide in facing our future trials in life.

It also helps us to understand people and societies. . This, fundamentally, is why we cannot stay away from history: it offers the only extensive evidential base for the contemplation and analysis of how societies function, and people need to have some sense of how societies function simply to run their own lives. History also allows us to understand change and how the society we live in came to be. These two fundamental reasons for studying history underlie more specific and quite diverse uses of history in our own lives. History well told is beautiful. Exploring what historians sometimes call the "pastness of the past"—the ways people in distant ages constructed their lives—involves a sense of beauty and excitement, and ultimately another perspective on human life and society. It also provides a terrain for moral contemplation, which provides moral understanding and identity. Studying the stories of individuals and situations in the past allows a student of history to test his or her own moral sense, to hone it against some of the real complexities individuals have faced in difficult settings.


1. How is history related to other social science?

History is almost always thrown together with the social sciences in the usual three- or four-way classifications of academic subjects. History is a study of the facts of man's social existence which is really the common denominator of the social sciences. It puts up close dealings to every social science. History is similar to other social sciences in perception, approach, and material. The conclusions of all these disciplines result to valuable and interesting insights to historians and those must not be overlooked. Equally, every discipline draw on the data of history and incorporate the perspective of history on the changing circumstances of human behavior. One notable recent influence of social sciences on history is the expanding interest in quantitative approaches to historical research.

2. What can you infer from the similarities and difference of history from other social sciences?

History is not really different to other social sciences because both history and social sciences deal with the facts of human being's social existence. Methods in writing history and social sciences are similar. In addition, the concepts under study in history are parallel with the concepts in social sciences. Each social science contributes to the study and writing of history. Indeed, history plays an important wherever interdisciplinary social science work has been developed.

But since history is the study of particulars (unique sequence of individuals, events, situations, ideas and institutions), it is impossible for the historian to proceed in the same way as the scientist, who tries to generalize from his observations and experiments to arrive at laws of natural phenomena. There are no laws of history in the strict sense, although there are of course many regularities and patterns in human behavior that once established by the social scientists, those must be taken into account by the historian in his investigations.


1. Give your own definition of history?

History is a social science that studies significant people, place and events in a chronological, systematic and analytical way. It contains lessons wherein we can learn from the mistakes of the past. It contains numerous issues that need to be debated without ends and guides the people whenever they are lost and give them the right path. It also contains interesting experiences of famous people and is guided by principles.

2. How can you make the study of story more interesting, relevant and fun?

Some students find history a boring subject, with all those dates, places and people to remember. One way of making it more interesting and fun to learn is by connecting the past and current events, making it more relevant. Another way is by piecing various points of view to come up with your own truth, just like the Hardy Boys. Making some skit, plays or dramas, makes studying more fun and enjoyable.

We should also make a connection of history with your interest to make it less boring. It is said that what is past is prologue. It's also said that history repeats itself. If that is true, then look at the study of history as a study of self-interest to learn from the mistakes of the past. A lot of people who want to be successful study the habits of already successful people; you, too, can study the past to improve your own understanding of how we got here; what we faced; where we failed; and how we can improve.


1. Is the study of history still relevant nowadays? why or why not?

The study of history in our generation nowadays is very important not only because it tells us the important events in the past; but it also teach us lessons that may help us to live our life to the fullest. The study history is very essential for every individual and in our society. History helps us understand people and the society, because history explains how people and society behave. It also helps us to know how things change and how we became like this. The study of history also provides us our own identity. Because of history, we know where we came from and who we really are. Historical data include evidence about how families, groups, institutions and whole countries were formed and about how they have evolved while retaining cohesion. Studying history is also essential to be a good citizen. It sometimes represents of citizenship history hope merely to promote national identity and loyalty through a history spiced by vivid stories and lessons in individual success and morality. But the importance of history for citizenship goes beyond this narrow goal and can even challenge it at some points.

The past causes the present and so the future, it is why we need to study our history. In studying history we can grasp how things change; also through history can we begin to can understand the factors that cause change; and also in history, we know what elements of an institution or a society persist despite change.

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