May 21, 2017, by Siobhan
History Degree: How Will Studying For a History Degree Help Me In The Real World?
When I tell people I’m doing a degree in History, I’m usually met with raised eyebrows, and remarks like ‘how is that going to help you find a job?’. It seems as though a lot of people think its a pointless area of study. What jobs can you get with a History degree? What’s the point in looking stuff that happened years ago? Isn’t it really boring? I can tell you that it will help me massively in the future, and it is helping me a great deal right now too. I’m going to prove just how valuable studying History can be, and why it will help to shape me into the person I want to be in the future.
To provide a bit of context to the argument, I’m going to use the general election that’s coming up as a kind of case study. For the past few weeks, our minds have been filled to the brim with political jargon on social media, on the television, and in newspapers. It’s quite literally impossible to escape the pictures of Theresa May eating chips with a menacing expression, and the hateful arguments between parties. Most of us take what we see in the papers, in articles, or on the news to be true and form our opinions based on what news reporters are telling us. As a History student, I do something different. Right from GCSE, it has been drilled into me that I must question everything I read or see in the historical sources I’m presented with, and interrogate them in order to judge their reliability. I am transferring this skill of interrogation to question the things I read everyday. I won’t just accept what I read in the tabloids, or lap up what politicians are saying on chat shows. Instead, I go away and really think about what they have said. Are they telling the truth? Can I trust them? What do their previous voting records say about them? do they corroborate what they are telling me now? Only then, when I have taken the information and analysed it, can I make a proper judgement on what has been said.
Far too many people are too trusting of mainstream media, and just accept the things they read. My degree has enabled me to reject all the manipulative dialogue and find out what it really means. Similarly, with the election coming up, the Labour party’s representation in news articles and supposedly impartial newspapers is shockingly low, being at around 25% compared to the Conservatives in newspapers like The Sun, the Daily Mail, and the Mirror. That statistic alone makes me think: why is there so little coverage of Labour activities? Are they a threat? Isn’t that rather unfair and quite controversial in the run up to an election?
What I’m trying to get at is that we should not trust everything we read, hear, or see. Much like on instagram or snapchat these days, we present ourselves at our most flattering angles, doing the most exciting things, making our lives look extravagant and fun filled constantly. Really, this is a small segment of our real lives.Yes, we get dressed up and go to exciting events, but a lot of the time, we’re sat in bed with Sudocrem on our spots and our hair in a greasy bun upon our heads, after a weekend where the most exciting thing that happened was a grocery delivery. This is not so dissimilar to political tactics. Only the very best things are written about ones own party, and only the worst is written about the opposition. There is a lot more going on than what a tabloid headline will tell you.
The bottom line is: studying History makes it possible for me to always have my interrogation hat on. I won’t accept things as face value. What we see is just the tip of the iceberg; there is a complicated but very insightful mess of information that tells the true story, if only we can be bothered to do a bit of research. Studying History means that I can think for myself, and make my own decisions and judgements about things. My opinion is independent to that of the editor of the Sun.
Of course, you don;t have to be a History student to do these things. But I am saying that by studying the discipline, I am more well equipped for questioning the inescapable politics of today.
On a final note, with the election just around the corner, please register to vote. We are very lucky to have the luxury of a democratic vote, so act on your privilege! Just when you are walking up to your polling station, make sure you are voting for someone you believe in, and for the right reasons.