Love this op-ed from James Grossman at the LA Times about why history is a worthy major, “History isn’t a useless major.” This post was written in May, but even in just a few months, his emphasis on the critical thinking skills one learns in history are even more crucial. Analyzing the current presidential election through a historical lens makes it even more terrifying than it is on its own…..
I was a history major. I love history. I admit it did actually lead me to my first job out of college – an interpreter (or guide) at a historic site. I spent the summer teaching the story of a fort in 1827 to visitors. I wore period dresses, I went barefoot, I cooked in a fireplace. It was fantastic. I still work for the same organization, but I rely much less on my historical skills, but on my much-more-recently acquired computer skills.
I never took a single computer class in college. I didn’t learn to code until I was 35. But – that doesn’t mean I can’t do this. Any coding I would’ve learned in college would’ve been so outdated by the time I was 35. My current job relies very little on what I actually learned in college, but relies much more on how I was able to learn since then.
I don’t put much stock in the “marketable” college majors. Of course, I don’t have anything to back this up — just that 30 years out, it really didn’t matter what my major was. It mattered how I was able to learn, adapt and keep up-to-date. We tell our kids that they should major in something they find interesting, something where they are learning more and expanding their horizons and minds. Something where they can gain some expertise and confidence. We think that’ll carry them much further than having a specific degree.