Side Menu Ends, main content for this page begins
Back to Side Menu (includes search)

The Importance of History

Posted on: December 1, 2017
Poster reading "Keep calm and learn History"

 By Nathan Brown

  Typically, it’s very easy to celebrate traditional holidays without possessing any knowledge of why we do it. This problem affects all major holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, and so on. Our school and education programs haven’t been doing  their job of educating us about things that truly matter, such as historical knowledge that will impact people for the rest of their lives. I can speak from personal experience and say that the last time I remember being educated on holidays was during the 2nd grade. Throughout my time at Oak Hills High School, none of my history teachers have mentioned anything about the history of such holidays. I interviewed  Riley Folzenlogen, a sophomore at OHHS, whom I am close friends with, to get additional feedback about her education on holidays. To compare, I also interviewed Ms. Outt, a history teacher at Oak Hills, to get a different point of view. I believe teachers have a responsibility to educate our students on issues that will affect them for the rest of their lives. In a turnout that completely surprised me, Riley and Ms. Outt had very similar outlooks on the subject.

   From a student perspective, holidays are just excuses to have a day or two off. While it’s easy to look at things with such a narrow perspective, it’s very important to realize the significance of why you’re off, or celebrating. However, Riley possesses a perspective that isn’t in line with the typical Oak HIll’s student. When asked how much she values history, she replied,“History is evidence for how we as people have changed in many aspects. I couldn’t appreciate as many things as I do without history.” Riley also believes most teenagers and people only value things that directly benefit themselves, and only care about the time off associated with Thanksgiving. She admits that Thanksgiving hasn’t played a huge role in her life, but it has taught her to value the people close to her.

   Riley’s main point was that she believes people should know why they’re celebrating a holiday such as Thanksgiving because “if people don’t know then there is no real meaning to the holiday itself.” I asked her the question that I had always wondered myself, “ What changes could be made at Oak Hills in order to bring more attention to the History of Thanksgiving, or holidays in general?” She replied in a way that I thought most students wouldn’t, “Thanksgiving should be told as it actually happened. Not sugarcoated, just blunt and honest. Instead of glossing over the topic for 20 minutes at the beginning of class. We should be taught about Thanksgiving, and every other national holiday we are off school for.” Overall, Riley supports the idea of educating the students here at Oak Hills about the history of Thanksgiving.

   Members of the faculty also believe that history is important for many reasons. For example, Ms. Outt, a history teacher here at Oak Hills, believes that “it is very important to understand where traditions originated especially in the case of Thanksgiving, a holiday that has been celebrated for hundreds of years.” However, the thing keeping her from her incorporating the history of Thanksgiving into her lesson plan is the crunch for time. As she puts it, “ the time crunch is definitely felt around the holidays. If I had time, I would incorporate it into the lesson plan we’re currently studying, so it doesn’t stick out to the students.” Her family has always valued Thanksgiving because she has a very small family, which is spread out through Kentucky and Indiana. Thanksgiving provided her family with a way to see each other and reconnect. She also grew up with family traditions such as cooking with her family, smelled food, had recipes passed down, and spent Black Friday shopping with her family. When asked how much she thought students would value being educated on the history of Thanksgiving, she replied, “ I believe students would somewhat value it because it’s a holiday that majority families celebrate.” She also said that in order to make students truly care, she would have to make it more personal for them. She does think that students would be more interested in learning about Thanksgiving than learning about required class material. Overall, she agrees that the knowledge of Thanksgiving, as well as other holidays, is a vital part of education to students.

   As you can see, both the student and teacher perspective on the importance of the history of Thanksgiving are very much alike. Students, especially here at Oak Hills, should be educated on the holidays they celebrate, because without that knowledge, celebrating the holiday without meaning isn’t worth celebrating at all. I completely agree with that sentiment as well. Knowledge of things that will affect our whole lives is the most important kind of knowledge that one can possess, and the fact that our education systems have been avoiding this is something that needs to be changed. Students should value their education, and providing a personal connection to it is the perfect way to get them too.