When we recall our college or university days, we often recall days and nights dedicated to the pursuit of learning: long conversations with classmates, books, essays, lectures, discussions, and perhaps even the odd intellectual debate at a club. For many of us, higher learning was a time to truly explore new ideas and learn all day. As stressful as exams, essay writing, labs, or simply balancing school with a part-time job can be, those university and college years will often be remembered by most adults as a time of relative freedom and minimum responsibility.
While there are certainly advantages to having busy lives consumed by work, family, and responsibilities, it’s important to make time to learn the things we enjoy and are fascinated by. Being a lifelong learner is critical to a life of continuous self-improvement, and we need to keep our minds busy and sharp. If you were a history buff in earlier years, or have a personal curiosity or passion for the ancient world, now is quite possibly the best time to pursue your ancient history learning goals.
Ancient history is an endlessly fascinating subject that supports a deeper appreciation for world cultures. And yet, the subject doesn’t always get the same respect as other, more “usable” disciplines that help one to get a job or start a long career. Few other subjects, however, will fill you with the same awe and wonder as ancient history. Greek philosophers, Roman Empires, Incan temples, Mayan astronomy, and Egyptian pyramids are just a small handful of topics you can explore through a study of ancient history. While you might not become the next Indiana Jones, you will certainly acquire knowledge that can stimulate your mind and drive your curiosity for years to come.
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Why it’s Important to Study Ancient History
Ancient history is important to study as it gives us a global view of the world that spans millennia and helps us understand the world we currently live in. Knowing about the ways ancient societies dealt with problems, interacted with their environment, and developed technologies can teach us a lot about how we might succeed in our own world. A study of ancient history makes us think about our ancestors, heritage, and how we might learn from the past. We develop a sense of pride and identity in who we are, where we have come from, and marvel at how our predecessors survived and thrived.
Studying history also keeps our minds sharp and intellectually stimulated. When you take classes, you will meet others who are just as fascinated by history as you are, and you’ll build your social network. Knowledge of ancient history can also lead you on a journey around the world to some of the most wondrous places,: picture yourself at the Roman Colosseum, the temples in Angkor Wat, Macchu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge, or the Acropolis knowing exactly what you are looking at and why it is historically important. Studying ancient history is a pursuit that can last a lifetime.
Ways to Learn More Ancient History
Now that we know why studying ancient history is so rewarding, let’s look at the ways we can learn it every day. As we have already discussed, life can get busy with careers, kids, parents, and all the responsibilities that come with adulthood. While it’s important to pursue our interests, we need not do it in a way that incurs more stress. Let’s look at some easy ways to study ancient history in our regular lives. You don’t have to go back to college or university to learn!
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1. Visit the Museum
There is probably no better or easier way to learn ancient history than to visit a museum. Most larger Canadian cities have a museum you can explore, and most will contain exhibits or permanent installations on one or more ancient civilizations: Greeks, Romans, Mayans, Chinese, Aztecs, Persians, Indigenous people and more. Museums also have plenty of curated content, so you can get the big picture without delving too deep. Many museums like the ROM in Toronto provide headphones and audio content so you can learn by looking and listening; or you can keep it simple and read the text near each artifact.
If you don’t live anywhere near a large museum no need to fret: many museums have websites with virtual exhibits you can explore. Should you happen to live close to a major museum, consider getting a season pass so you can visit and explore history anytime you want.
Another way to truly start learning how ancient civilizations looked is to do some travelling. Travel is one of the most powerful learning experiences we can engage in: it’s experiential, sensory, exciting, and takes us out of our daily surroundings for a bit. Visit Europe and explore sites like Stonehenge in England, the Colosseum and the Appian Way in Rome, the Parthenon and Acropolis in Greece, or ancient ruins in Turkey. Visit the Great Wall of China, the beautiful temples of Angkor Wat. Thinking of going down South? Check out Macchu Picchu in Peru or ruins in Mexico and Central America.
Not sure where to start? Find a tour company that can organize a special tour for you, or perhaps have one already prepared so you can easily plan your trip.
3. Independent Study
Independent study is another great option for anyone thinking about studying ancient history. Use the power of inquiry to drive a search on the internet, and see where your interests take you. Sometimes even a great history book can do the trick of getting you to learn on your own: visit your local library or bookstore for recommendations, or find an audiobook version for an even easier way to consume information.
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Independent study is great for anyone who prefers a more free flowing study that is unstructured and not required for a degree program. Of course, there are plenty of people who might take a course - but independent study is great if you need more flexibility. Be sure to set goals and plan experiences to reward yourself for driving your own learning.
4. Take a Course
Courses are probably the most traditional and surprisingly effective ways to learn ancient history. While you might choose a history course as part of a degree or certificate program, you might also take a course for fun. You can find great ancient history programs and courses at your local university or college. Sometimes departments of continuing education will have a course prepared for busy students who work full time. Another option is to take a massive open online course with a university: they are free and low cost, and organized from some of top schools like Harvard or Berkeley.
5. Hire a Tutor
Whether you take a course or choose to pursue the study of ancient history independently, another great option is to hire an ancient history tutor. History tutors are well-versed and accomplished in their studies, and often have an academic background in the area. They can help you through a MOOC, a university course, or simply help you understand an area of interest to you. Perhaps you simply want to learn about the Mayan civilization or the Ancient city of Pompeii: a private tutor can focus on what you want most and tailor a program right for you. Another advantage of tutors is that they can meet you at your home or somewhere convenient: no commuting to class!
Where can you find a tutor? Sites like Superprof have listings for history tutors near you. Check out Superprof today!
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