Amazing Kids! Magazine

Making History

By Cathy Yan


In all honesty, history has never been one of my favourite subjects. They’re all dead, I always think, so why do I still have to learn of a past that has already been long put to rest? Science and mathematics were more up my alley, with modern implications and requiring skills that not everyone has. History was just rote memorization, with no variety whatsoever; as long as someone has the time, they can easily be masters of the subject.

Or so I thought.

You see, as simple as the past may seem on the surface, it really is a very complex subject. History is like an ocean; the deeper you delve, the stranger and murkier it becomes. However, I did not know what I was learning in school was only the tip of the iceberg until a field trip to the museum opened my eyes to the intricacies of what had already passed.

Like most students, I thought a trip down the world’s memory lane is probably the worst trip ever. The smell of dust, the stern-faced curators, and the droning presentation…count me out! However, this trip went in a completely different direction. It started when we were assigned to a youthful, energetic guide instead of the usual senior citizen. The guide’s love for what he was talking about was incredibly contagious, keeping the excitement high. Even better, he didn’t just stick to the facts or the obvious, he theorized, and asked the important ‘what if?’ questions that made history interesting for once.

“What if the Germans had won the second world war?” he had asked us. “What if the computer was never invented? What if Martin Luther King had not been assassinated? What if the South had won the U.S. Civil War and slavery was never abolished?”

On and on the questions went, provoking thought and making me reconsider my adamant accusation that history had no relevance to the present. I suddenly realized no event in the course of time had ever been isolated. There had always been a cause. Our present is no more than the end result of a chain of events that led one to the next, shaping the world we know today.

If even one of those events in the past had a different outcome or did not happen at all, our lives today would be much, much different.

Even more profound: we are making history right now. Every action we make, big or small, can have significant consequences on the future.

For once, I was reluctant to head back to school.

“Did you enjoy the trip?” my teacher asked on our way back.

“Well,” I smiled, thoughts still roiling inside my mind, “it definitely wasn’t boring.”