The Lessons of History
As I was driving to work this morning, I caught a few minutes of a talkback segment discussing the cutting of history classes in the Victorian education system…or at least that’s what I thought it was about. Turned out it had more to do with the teaching of Australian history rather than history in general, but it was enough to get me thinking.
The idea of History being an increasingly unpopular subject – spurious though that idea may be – doesn’t strike me as being all that absurd, even though I studied both Modern and Ancient History right through to graduation. The reason it rings a note of truth is the pressure we put on kids to decide right now who and what they want to be, forcing them into a position where they select courses based on a myopic criteria of what’s most practical for getting them into uni, leaving subjects like History to fall by the wayside.
I remember spending Years 11 and 12 under an increasing sense of pressure, like every test I took and every assignment I handed in was a building block towards my future. If I chose the wrong course, if I got the wrong grade, my career prospects and my entire life would suffer as a result.
Well, I did choose the wrong courses. I did get the wrong grades. And while I would never minimize the importance of education, I would also say to kids to relax. It’ll be okay. If you haven’t worked out what your passion is, if you haven’t worked out exactly what you want the arc of your life to be, it’ll be okay. Life doesn’t end at 18 because you got a C when you needed a B. It doesn’t end because you took History instead of Geometry or Economics. It doesn’t end because you don’t know what exactly you want to do for the rest of your life right now.
And if you don’t know what you want to do, work out first what you’re passionate about. It’ll flow from there. I had no idea what I should do after graduating, but I always loved to write. I ended up studying Creative Writing at uni, despite it not being the most practical choice to make. My first book is getting published in two weeks time. Things work out.
History is easily confused for fate, but only when looking over it in retrospect. When you’re living it, it’s hard to know what choices to make, and impossible to know where your path will lead you. But remember; there is no test big enough, no final score bad enough, that will keep you from ultimately living a happy and fulfilling life.
And now, with all these words of worldly wisdom said, I’ll shuffle back off to the retirement village to reminisce about the days where music was something you could buy and physically own, and mobiles were something to be hung above a baby’s crib.
‘Til next time.