Monday, May 7, 2012

History as Case Study

People always ask why you study whatever you chose to study in school (or will choose). People have lots of reasons for why they make their choices, and too often, we make the mistake of assuming any singular reason is the primary motivating factor for a choice. One of the main reasons that I chose to study history is that it is one of the disciplines where you can take its lessons and apply it elsewhere. History is basically the world's largest case study.

People say that history repeats itself and that is not entirely true. Similar situations emerge, and we are able to compare back to previous history to try and predict the best way to handle the emerging situation. Having thousands of years to look back on, we can see how different social movements succeeded and failed. We know, for example, that art schools should have lower standards of entry and that bats do not make good bombs.

Not only that, but history prepares you to take that raw information, refine it, and turn it into a theory. From that theory, you can then apply it to reality. I'm not of the school of thought that history is a raw repetition of facts and dates; without analysis, all you have is chronology. Which, if I could type with derision, I would.

History is part of most liberal educations because it really helps you put other things in perspective. More importantly, it prepares you for the analysis that you will do every day in almost any role you choose for your daily life. It gives you the research tools you need to find primary and secondary sources to more fully understand legislation, previous conflicts, social and economic advancements, or even the impact that new technology had.

Alone, history is utilitarian and informative. As you take the past and apply it to the present is when the real muscle of the discipline flexes itself. Case studies take the answers from "Who does what when?" and then asks: "So what?"



If I could redo this blog, I'd move this and the other linked post towards the start, maybe even before the actual first post. Also, I'm impressed I somehow got five hits from Moongate. Anyway, here is the updated Write d20 Ideas list:

1. Everyday heroes as PCs
2. Why writing comic books is hard
3. Why comedy is harder than drama
4. Making magic magical
5. Post a link to a short story; describe the writing and editing process
6. Playing ethical villains
7. Play a random song on Pandora; write a short fiction piece using lyrics from the song.
8. Making fantasy travel fantastic
9. Unity of purpose (in writing fiction)
10. Unity of purpose (in designing table top adventures)
11. Applying history to your table top adventures
12. Popular history is still history
13. Using history in other disciplines
14. History, as people and interactions
15. History, as movements and reactions
16. Living History: What Our Memoirs May Look Like
17. Why modern politics is not history (Yet!)
18. Historical perspective: the Internet
19. Why I studied history: True stories are important
20. Living history

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