What is the right way to study History?

Written Oct 5, 2016

Well … that depends on what you are really asking.

If you are asking how to study History for a test, then the answer is to find out what you are expected to know; what you are expected to understand; and what are the criteria for passing. Therefore, you should ensure that you have a clear understanding of what the teacher expects. Once you know that, you can formulate a study plan – take notes, answer practice questions, etc.

If you are asking the more general question about studying History as a means of understanding our past, then there are various approaches:

  • Start with an overview of world history
    • Textbook
    • Videos on Youtube
    • Coursera (or other MOOC)
  • Focus on a large theme, or civilization. For example:
    • Greek or Roman Civilization
    • China
    • Ottoman Empire
    • US History

As you learn more about aspects of history, you can continue your studies. You can read, or watch videos or lectures. You can also start studying original sources. For example, you could read books written in the period of interest. Perhaps you could visit areas of interest (such as the Roman Forum, or Herculaneum).