The History Silo Effect

I’ve been around the history travel scene for a while now, taking history and creating blogs, tours and experiences for people wanting to indulge in their interests. 

I have become acutely aware of the silos in which we learn about the history which interests us.

Before I go any further I should probably point out that I don’t think this is a problem within itself rather that I think it is something for us all to think about when we’re looking to expand our knowledge.

The teaching of history is, necessarily, packaged into neat topics for consumption. We almost immediately choose, or have chosen for us, the parts of history we will spend time learning about, what captures our attention and imagination. Most commonly, this will be a specific time period but also a specific aspect of life at that time and within a geographical location. 

Old Book Stack

This is not a criticism of how we are taught history but a bit of a ‘ah-ha!’ prompt for us all to think about what history we have been drawn to and whether we have unwillingly fallen foul of the history silo effect, as I am calling it. 

In recent times, with the dawn of social media, a sociological phenomena called an ‘echo chamber’ has been identified, where we find ourselves operating in friendship groups which ‘echo’ our own ideals and beliefs. The means we are less likely to come across ideas, or information, which doesn’t already agree with what we already believe or understand.

Combine these two ideas, the history silo and echo chamber effects, and apply them to our learning of history and we spend our time learning more about the things we already know, to the exclusion of other areas or topics.

Why is this important? On an individual level, only that we could be missing out on further areas of interest. On a wider level, we (and I mean us all) fail to understand the lessons we could learn, preventing the repetition of mistakes of the past.

Bit too heavy? That’s fair enough. So why choose to talk about this in my blog?

Simply, I’d like to prompt an action from you. Don’t worry, it’s simple and not at all heavy.

I’d like to challenge you to choose your next read to be something outside of your normal ‘go-to’. If you normally read about the Plantagenet period in England, why not try a book on Asia on the same time period? If you know a lot about kings & queens, try learning about life of ordinary people. Or combine everything and try something completely new! 

I'd love to know which periods or element of history you are going  to look into next. 

Please feel free to email me back or let me know on one of the British History Tours social media channels (find the links on the top and bottom of this page.)

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