History – From a Different Perspective

Tim Urban who writes the ‘Wait But Why’ blog comes up with some very interesting ideas and articles. His latest was particularly good.

Like him, when I reflect back on all my learning of history in school and later, I often struggle to get the context straight or to be able to see the inter-relationship between different events or people, especially when thinking on a global scale. The questions of – who else was doing what, where, at the same time as a particular key historical event is an important aspect of ‘getting history’.

Wait But Why – Horizontal History

Tim’s article is quite lengthy, but well worth the read and creditable for the massive amount of research put in to gathering and collating the data. I wish these kinds of analyses had been around when i was studying history in school. That said, from an education perspective, I believe some of the greatest benefits and insights would come from having students produce this kind of data themselves, for a particular period of time. Too often, school history is split in to places and areas of the world and then learned in a very time-bound linear manner.

I suspect that this work can also be built on to further. It would be interesting to see whether it can identify certain combinations of factors and circumstances in the world that bring about the biggest, most positive shifts forward for humanity (and which factors provide caution for danger and risk).

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