What is History and Why Do We Do It?
History is the study of the past as written by the winners. At least that is the way it used to be. Now, with the onset of technology and the ability to research and exchange ideas on a global scale, history has become a changing research of the past.
By researching primary and secondary sources, one is able to gain a better understanding on how societies, communities and nations came to be. In respect to Canada, I learned about the hardships that Canada’s first settlers faced and the fact that the voice of the indigenous people is absent in a lot of historical documents and events. Through research I am also able to look at historians and other people opinions about history. This research goes beyond the textbook, allowing me the freedom to seek out new thoughts and ideas.
Research is the corner stone of history as it is the only way to get all the perspectives of an event. For example, if I only focused on why Confederation was bad, I would never know why different colonies joined confederation. If I only used the documents covered by the government, I would never know the thoughts that the people living the Maritimes had about confederation good or bad. In order to fully understand history one must look at as many sources as possible to gain understanding.
By learning about history, one is able to make conclusions about past events that have worked and not worked with the intent of not creating the same mistakes. Although by learning about history one can conclude that often the mistakes are made over and over again just in a different way. I am sure that in thirty years from now people will look back at our current governments and legislations with shock and horror wondering what on earth we were thinking.
All in all history is the study of the past. As new documents come up, the history changes. As oral history becomes more and more valued, the focus of history also changes as accepting oral history gives a voice to those who never wrote it down. Without the knowledge of history one would never know how we came to be. Who fought for our land, our rights and our identity? Who is responsible for mistreatments and misunderstandings that now need to be fixed today? If we do not look at our history we are essentially not looking at ourselves. It is beyond important to know who we are and where we came from so that we can appreciate the things we have today and how we got them.