history intro

Author’s Intro to History Pages

I am not a historian. And this is not a substitute for a history book.

But this site provides you with a skeleton on which you can hang all those factoids you’ve been accumulating through the years.

My approach here comes out of my own frustration. When I would read about something’s historical background, the author seemed to assume I had a background that I actually did not have.

Was I supposed to know words like Cartesian and Angevin? Was I supposed to know when Sargon lived? I was sure it was somewhere in that “other half” of world history – the half before George Washington — mixed in there with Julius Caesar and Henry the Eighth, but was that good enough?

I tried to remedy my lack of background by taking lots of notes, but it quickly became too overwhelming to remember. And I usually did not have my outlines with me anyway when I was actually reading a book, so it didn’t do me any good. I needed a method I could internalize.

I quickly found that I was no good at memorizing dates. The breakthrough came for me when I found a way to bring all my learning modes into play – including visual and mechanical – to get the data into my long-term memory. I developed a diagram, which I will introduce to you. With this diagram in your memory, you can see how the topic you are reading abut fits into the context of that particular empire’s development, and what other empires were doing at that moment.

If you are good at memorizing dates, or if you already have an overall grasp of the ebb and flow of world history, then you don’t need these ideas. If you have exactly zero interest in history, but could admit, even if reluctantly, that having a general idea of how we got where we are today is part of being a good citizen, then my approach might be what you are looking for.

I had certain requirements for my plan. I needed something that would only take a few minutes a day. I needed something that would not have too many details  – it had to fit on a single page. We remember what we use – so I needed a method that would have a built-in repetition factor.

The approach I will give you here does not take the place of a history book. It provides you with an internal scaffolding so that you have a place to hang the facts you are reading about. It does not repeat information that is easily accessible in reference books. It does give you ideas for organizing details that you do want to remember.

You will first be creating an overview of the past five thousand years of history in visual form, on one piece of paper. This is not meant to be a reference page. You must memorize it. But I will present it to you in small bits. You will be able to internalize it because you will attempt to redraw the diagram by memory once a day, until you have mastered that small amount. Then you add the next small amount. It will probably take you only 3 or 4 days, 5 minutes each day, to add each cluster of new information.

If you want to give it a try,  go to World History on One Page

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