It appears that adolescents today possess little enthusiasm when it comes to history. Recent studies show that fewer than one in three individuals now take GCSE History. However, last year in August, an unlikely trio of videos regarding the shared medieval ancestry of the east and west were published on Queen Rania of Jordan’s YouTube channel. The films were well-received as they explored intriguing, underappreciated facts such as Richard the Lionheart hiring a Muslim doctor and Henry VIII utilizing Arabic dinner plates.
The response to these videos was nothing short of astounding. Bloggers from different countries and backgrounds expressed their gratitude for building bridges and dismantling boundaries. For instance, one blogger, BigGirl from South Croydon, stated, "These were things I simply did not know," while another blogger, Ahmed from Pakistan, gave thanks for the opportunity to learn something new. As a result of her efforts, Queen Rania was awarded YouTube’s first Visionary award.
History was invented as a tool to help society advance. The original definition of “historia” was a mixture of analysis, inquiry, observation, and myth. During ancient times, "myth" did not mean just fairytales; instead, it was a source of information. The main goal of history was to learn from the past and not to dwell on it. The goal was to improve the present based on the lessons from the past.
The success of films like Zack Snyder’s 300 showed a vast appetite among the youth between 15 and 25 years old to engage with historical events. This particular movie quoted Herodotus almost to the letter and has been viewed by over 150 million people worldwide. Its viral promotion by enthusiastic bloggers has prompted educationalists to consider that history encompasses more than just social history. It includes a grander concept, namely that shared memory is the essence of being human.
During the 20th century, technology was prioritized over history. History was even seen as a dirty word by many. However, as the turn of the century came and went, it became clear that technology alone could not solve every problem. History teaches us about the errors and victories of our forefathers and provides an in-depth understanding of human behavior. The availability of new technology makes it possible for anyone to access this aspect of humanity. Roughly 1,800 years ago, Galen, a Greek philosopher and medic, stated that human civilization develops best when technology supports an individual’s enlightenment. This idea resulted in his famous thesis, "Greater and better by far than our fathers it is our boast to be."
The technological revolution is a direct descendant of ancient Greek historia. Presently, the internet is full of individuals who wish to engage with the past. These individuals want to delve deep into historical events. The only thing we need to do is remind them that pursuing a GCSE in History is one way to do so.