Passes in Maths and English Required – But what about History?

It’s been a while since I’ve been in the classroom, so there are a few things that I don’t exactly remember. I know we all remember our basic Maths, English and Geography. But what about History?

I remember that when I was younger, studying history made no sense to me at all. Of course, I didn’t mind the space that it took up when I added it to the list of subjects that I’d passed for CXC or GCE, but I knew that the actual historical details would be of no use to me.

Who was really going to ask me date of the first slave rebellion, the name of the largest fort in the Caribbean or whether Antigua had immediate emancipation or an apprenticeship period, in order to determine my suitability for a job?

I know you’re agreeing with me because when you look at the requirements for job openings, do any of them say that a pass in History is required? My point exactly. But just like I tell my kids that there’s Math all around us, I have to grudgingly admit that history is too.

Our economy is dependent on tourism, but we don’t all have to work in the industry to know that we should at least have a basic knowledge of what happened here before we got here, and what’s happening now. So we might not remember much about William Wilberforce, but surely we should have more than passing knowledge about Horatio Nelson.

We should know our major landmarks, and where they’re found. That means not just Boggy Peak and Monk’s Hill, but Sir Vivian Richards’ Stadium as well as The Museum. We should know that St. John’s was not Antigua’s first capital. And that despite what the Smithsonian recently said about King Klass and the attempted rebellion, we should know as much about him, as about V.C. Bird.

Someone I know recently conducted several interviews with applicants for jobs being made available in the hospitality industry. For most, the historical details seemed too ancient to be remembered. For others, current events meant whatever was on tap for the weekend. Besides – the job descriptions spoke about wait service and reception. It didn’t say nothing ‘bout telling people about where we live.

Everything I’ve ever read about preparing for an interview says that you should know something about the company that you’re applying to, or at the very least the industry in which it operates. And if we tell our visitors that the beach is just the beginning, it would be nice to actually tell them what else there is.

I read recently that a large percentage of Americans do not know their history as well as those persons who apply to be citizens of the country. Probably because the applicants are required to study the history of the country in order to call it home.

Lecture over. Pop quiz on Friday.


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