Varsity Tutors Scholarship Winner

Congratulations to our scholarship winner!
  • Rank: 1
  • 0 Votes
Sarah Giddings
Severn, MD
August 2017

History Doesn't Have to be Boring - Varsity Tutors Scholarship Essay

If I was a college professor, I'd teach history. History is always viewed as the boring class where the professor just drones on and on and lectures from bell to bell. In the Harry Potter books, the history teacher is actually a ghost because he's so boring! But history doesn't have to be boring. History can be so fascinating! Like that time that there were three popes and they all excommunicated each other! Or that time that James Madison wrote letters to himself because George Washington and Congress were were writing to each other but they both used Madison as their ghost writer. Or that Pompeii was covered in graffiti saying stuff like "Salvius was here" and "Marcus loves Spendusa" and "Ampliatus Pedania is a thief!" These are actual translations of Pompeian graffiti, and a lot of it is actually inappropriate but strikingly similar to what teenagers these days talk about.
All of these fascinating things are most certainly a part of our history, but we never learn about them. History classes are all about the big picture; battles and important people. But real history is the little details... the fact that roman graffiti was full of inappropriate jokes and that Shakespeare is also filled with inappropriate jokes and that teenagers today are still telling the exact same inappropriate jokes as they did two thousand years ago. The weird details of history are often the best, and though they may be nothing more the random facts to impress people in conversation, they still have some use. If I was trying to impress someone with my random knowledge, I'd much rather talk about Pompeian graffiti than recite the quadratic equation by memory. Both are bits of knowledge that are fairly useless, but one is interesting and gets people to laugh, the other causes people to have traumatic flashbacks to high school algebra.
History is so weird and interesting, and if I had to be a college professor, I'd teach a class on the little-known facts about history that are fairly useless except as random facts. It'd be interesting, it's be a break from the other serious history classes, it'd honestly help people with conversations because you never know when a random fact is going to come in handy. My class would help people see a side of history that they never knew before. I'm actually going to attend college to study history, and I love the college I'm planning to attend and my degree program is great, but it requires 3 100+ U.S. History classes... I hate U.S. History, but if I could take a class devoted to strange going-ons of political figures? That would be so fun! The early presidents and founding fathers were such cool and interesting people who have been stripped of all character except that they are founding fathers. Like that Thomas Jefferson was obsessed with macaroni and cheese! Honestly that is so relateable!
My class on the weirdness of history would help people understand and relate to history more, look at the impact of the Hamilton musical; it revealed the more human side of the founding fathers and got so many people interested in history (but I don't think it ever mentioned Jefferson and mac n cheese). If we gave more students a chance to understand that historical figures were people just like us, students would connect to these people and want to learn. History doesn't have to be boring. Finding out that society doesn't really change can be life changing. Two hundred years ago, people obsessed over their favorite foods and they took the L and they had squads. In two hundred years, students will be studying us and learning that they still make the exact same inappropriate jokes as we do now. It's important to learn about the little things about history, and I would want to teach that. Because when it comes down to it, history is just a bunch of people like us, and we're making history right now.
That's why the little details of history are important, and if I had to teach anything, it'd be that.