History class has a stereotype of being the perfect class to sleep through.
No matter the topic, history can put some people right to sleep.
Considering the grand number of stories that one can learn in history class, you may find it surprising that some people find history boring.
However, as the reasons below suggest, it may not be history that is boring, but the way in which it’s taught that makes it boring.
Why Is History So Boring? (10 Possible Reasons)
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why people find history boring is that they don’t think it’s relevant anymore.
What happened already happened.
There isn’t anything anyone can do to change the past.
Of course, people who think that history is irrelevant likely aren’t getting the message that history can repeat itself.
By not learning from the mistakes of the past, one is likely to repeat them in the future.
That said, there is some truth to the belief that history is no longer relevant.
For example, learning about the eating habits of certain historical figures might not be relevant to a person’s life.
If you’re worried about a job interview tomorrow, then knowing that cavemen and women used to eat bugs doesn’t really matter.
The great thing about history, however, is that there’s no shortage of anecdotes.
Even if one part of it doesn’t seem relative to your life, there are certainly other parts of it that you’ll be able to relate to.
Anything that has occurred in the past is history.
While learning about cavemen may not help you with your job interview, reading about someone’s past experiences and how they nailed their interviews might.
It’s still, technically, history since it occurred in that individual’s past.
They’re drawing on their past experiences to help others in the future land job offers.
In the classroom, teachers can make history more interesting by finding topics or picking out stories that relate to their students.
For the everyday person, finding a certain topic that relates to your life can make history more interesting.
Otherwise, history is boring when it isn’t relevant or relatable to your life.
2. Lack Of Tangible Learning
When presented in the classroom, history is typically something you can’t touch.
Even if your school goes on a field trip to a local museum, most of the artifacts are behind glass.
You’re also not generally able to interact with history.
For example, you can’t speak with someone from the early 1800s.
Humans die and they take the opportunities of interacting with them to the grave.
Because interacting with history is often difficult, if not impossible, then that means the main method of learning about history is through verbal instruction or reading.
There are also plenty of visual learning aids, too, such as documentaries and history lessons presented in video format.
This makes history boring because some people don’t find learning about something by listening or reading to be interesting.
After a while, listening to someone drone on about the Industrial Revolution becomes boring.
Reading several blocks of text about the various presidents can become boring.
Even watching a documentary can become boring if you find watching information uninteresting.
Kinesthetic learners, in particular, prefer to manipulate things with their hands to learn about them.
They like to take things apart and put them together.
They also like to physically manipulate objects to better comprehend them.
You can’t do that with history.
You’re unable to go back in time and work in a steel mill to see how it affected laborers as it did in the 1800s.
You’re only able to learn about it through spoken lessons, reading about the subject, or watching a documentary.
For some people, this can make learning about history quite boring.
3. Boring Teaching Style
Some people find history boring because of how their teacher presents the subject to them.
There are a variety of teaching styles.
When it comes to history, some teachers prefer to show documentaries, then follow them up with lectures.
Others don’t rely on a book at all and instead just give a lecture.
Some teachers lecture directly from the book.
They might even require their students to take notes that are direct quotes from a book.
They’re not allowed to write their notes in their own words.
Rather, the teacher expects them to memorize and repeat the book over and over until it’s committed to memory.
That doesn’t make learning about history particularly fun or enjoyable.
Students just end up memorizing what they need to for an exam, then dump the information immediately.
It doesn’t inspire curiosity.
When students become adults, they’re still not interested in learning about history because they had such a poor and boring experience with it in school.
Their spark of curiosity burned out because they had a teacher with a boring teaching style.
History can be exciting to learn, however, the wrong teacher can quickly make it a boring subject.
A way to make history more exciting is to ensure that teachers mix things up.
While directly copying notes from a book might be helpful for some students, it can also be a boring experience.
A better teaching style to adopt would be one of engagement.
You might have students watch a film or perform some research on their own.
In this case, all the teacher would need to do is specify a general topic, then let their students research and learn from there.
This teaching style inspires curiosity and makes the subject interesting since students can use their own self-teaching styles to learn.
History can be boring when you have a teacher who uses a poor teaching style for the subject.
4. Teachers Aren’t Storytellers
Another reason history can be boring is when you have teachers who aren’t storytellers.
Typically, we learn history from being told stories about people who lived in the past and events that occurred long ago.
Those stories might be tragic, violent, or even happy.
There have been many movies made about certain historical figures.
Clearly, there must be something interesting about them.
It all comes down to the teacher’s ability to tell a story.
If the teacher isn’t a good storyteller, then the class is going to be exceptionally boring.
For example, a teacher who just focuses on dates and events is not interesting to listen to.
They don’t go into detail about the people or what occurred during that time.
Instead, they keep the information brief and have you focus on the date on which things happened.
Nothing is exciting or emotional about dates.
Even a precursory summary of an event doesn’t have enough meat in it to become a good story.
When a teacher presents history like this, then there’s no wonder it’s boring.
On the other hand, if you have a teacher who gets deep into the history and tells stories of the people who lived during those times, then the subject becomes much more interesting.
Reality TV is popular for a reason.
History can be like reality TV except that it features events that occurred long ago.
It all comes down to how good the teacher is at telling the story.
History is boring when your teacher isn’t a good storyteller or doesn’t tell stories at all.
5. It’s Not An Interest
Everyone has their interests.
This is true in school and in adulthood.
Some interests might change as you age, but for the most part, you tend to know what you like and what you don’t like.
The problem with history is that not everyone is interested in it.
History often requires one to already have an interest in asking questions or learning about the world around them.
It requires some semblance of curiosity.
If someone isn’t naturally curious, then they might not find history interesting.
It also doesn’t help that some of the information presented in generic history classes is about the status quo.
White men and the battles they fought dominate middle school and high school history books.
There aren’t as many history books that feature minorities.
Someone who has an interest in the history of minorities might get burnt out on history when all they’re learning about is the majority in school.
They then take that disinterest with them into adulthood.
Others simply have other interests.
For example, someone might have more of an interest in sports than in history.
While they might find sports history interesting, they may not find history about the migration of humankind interesting.
When something doesn’t interest someone, it becomes boring to them.
That’s because they’re not engaged with it.
Their thoughts might be elsewhere entirely instead of attempting to learn about history.
Because they’re not interested, their brain doesn’t help keep them motivated in paying attention to the subject.
Instead, the brain wants them to think about the things they’re interested in since it’s more rewarding to think about those things.
They get a sense of pleasure or positive stimulus when thinking about those things.
When history isn’t interesting to someone, they find the subject boring.
6. Minimal Rewards
The brain works on a reward system.
When you do something that the brain likes, then it rewards you.
The reward is usually a positive feeling.
You might feel happy, aroused, or even just satisfied.
When you do something the brain doesn’t like, then it punishes you.
You might feel pain, anger, frustration, or even boredom.
The things you do can also make your brain reward or punish you.
For example, when you eat food, the brain rewards you with feelings of fullness and satisfaction.
If you skip a meal, then the brain punishes you by making you feel weak, angry, and hungry.
This sort of reward system can also determine what you end up liking to do and what you don’t like to do.
For example, when learning about history, some people don’t feel like they get much of a reward out of it.
Since it all happened in the past, there are no new discoveries that you’re going to make by reading about the event.
Unless you become an archeologist, you won’t be physically uncovering any new truths either.
Since you don’t get much of a reward from studying or learning about history, your brain doesn’t particularly care for it.
Since you don’t feel any particular way about it, you’re not exactly motivated to remain engaged with it.
This isn’t true for someone who is naturally curious; however, or for someone who likes learning new stories.
In this instance, you might enjoy history because your brain is giving you the reward of happiness or a euphoric feeling for being engaged in learning new things.
Otherwise, the lack of a reward when learning about history can make it feel boring.
7. It’s Non-Participatory
Learning about history is usually quite passive.
Whether you’re learning about it in the classroom or out of it, in many cases, you’re just an observer.
In the classroom, the traditional form of learning history is via a lecture from a teacher.
They might use a PowerPoint presentation or similar software to present the information, but it’s usually a lot of talking about the events and listing dates.
As the student, you’re sitting there and taking notes.
You might be able to ask questions now and then, but you’re not exactly encouraged to ask too many.
That’s because, much like other subjects in school, history has a specific curriculum that it needs to follow.
That means your teacher must get through certain topics before the school year is over.
They don’t have time to deviate.
Since the teacher is just talking to the class, it isn’t very participatory.
There aren’t many moments where the teacher asks students to chime in.
Therefore, students are not engaged.
Instead, students just listen or watch and write.
Since it’s pretty sedentary, it’s easy for students to feel bored.
The passive experience means they don’t have to engage much beyond listening and writing.
It may even feel hypnotic to a point which is why some students might fall asleep during class.
Outside of the classroom, history still isn’t very participatory.
You can’t take up a wooden spear and hunt a sabretooth tiger to see what it was like for cavemen.
While there are historical reenactments that you can take part in, they are, at their very heart, reenactments.
They’re not the real thing.
Because you’re unable to participate in the learning of history, it can make the subject feel quite boring.
8. Difficult To Learn
One reason why some people might find history boring is that they actually find it difficult to learn or understand.
In the classroom, history is often presented in such a way that students have to memorize names, dates, and events.
They then need to recall those dates, names, and events for various tests and exams.
While some students might find this easy, others may find it difficult.
If the student isn’t particularly good at memorizing dates, for example, then they might find history class quite difficult.
Their grades might even suffer because they’re unable to perform well in class.
Memorizing hard facts may be easy for some people, but others struggle with the sheer number of dates.
It’s also easy to mix one date’s events up with another.
When the student has several dates, names, and events to remember, it’s easy to get them all mixed up.
This becomes even more difficult when the teacher doesn’t lecture well on the differences between each person, date, and event.
One event might feel like another.
One date might feel like another.
As such, the student mixes them up and performs poorly.
Because of their poor performance, they deem the subject difficult.
Since it’s difficult, they don’t enjoy learning about it.
As a result, they disengage from it and the subject becomes boring to them.
9. Too Easy To Learn
While some students might find history difficult, others might find the subject too easy.
If a student is particularly good at memorizing dates, names, and events, for example, then they might find the class simple.
They may not need to spend as much time studying or memorizing their notes.
The pace of the class becomes a problem.
They’re ready to move on when the majority of the class isn’t ready.
Instead, they have to sit and wait until everyone gets to their level before the entire class moves on.
This can make history feel boring because you’re stuck waiting for everyone else.
Since there isn’t much learning you can do on your own because the textbook only gives so much information, you just have to wait for everyone else.
Even if you’re not waiting, the fact that history is easy for you means you’re not getting much of a challenge.
Without a challenge, it can feel like you’re not accomplishing much.
As such, the subject of history feels boring to you.
10. Missing The Point
A final reason why people find history boring is because they’re missing the point of it.
This problem usually comes as a result of how they learned about history in school.
Teachers emphasize names and dates instead of what history is really all about.
At its heart, history serves as a lesson for the future.
It can act as a warning of things that need to change or as guidance on how to do certain things.
When people see history as nothing more than a collection of names, dates, and events, then they’re missing the point of learning history.
Names, dates, and events are boring.
Learning about the reasons that brought the United States into World War II and their impact on the war is far more interesting.
History is boring when people miss the point of it.
History is an expansive subject with several sub-genres that fall under it.
Even if you find one particular portion of history boring, you may find another aspect fascinating.
Unfortunately, due to how people learned history in school, the subject as a whole is often considered boring.