History For Dummies

An educational TikTok’s rise to fame

Olivia Condell, Editor in Chief

Senior Steven H. is the creator of History for Dummies, an educational TikTok page which teaches students both history and geography lessons and has now surpassed one million followers. 

Beginning the account in the summer of 2020, Steven’s first post highlighted the worst hurricanes in recorded history. Since then, his videos cover topics ranging from the U.S. Presidencies and Queen Elizabeth to Ancient languages and iconic pop-culture moments. 

“I started [History for Dummies] because I loved history. It’s always been one of my favorite subjects and it enables you to tell the story of mankind. But, I also wanted people my age to be able to connect with one another while learning through a platform that caters to our generation,” said Steven. 

His videos captured the attention of TikTok immediately. As a new user, the algorithm featured his content on the ‘For You’ page, where users are able to watch creators’ videos without following them. Steven credited his persistence and consistency for his success, as he continued making videos after his first TikToks gained traction. 

“After a month and a half on TikTok, I gained about 200,000 followers. It was absolutely crazy because the app was still a fairly new platform at the time. […] Then, when I posted a video about what ancient languages sounded like, that was definitely a catalyst to me gaining more followers. The video itself got 17.1 million views and 3.2 million likes. This allowed me to be on TikTok’s own discovery page as one of their featured accounts,” said Steven. 

Steven also has a popular series on his account called ‘Geography for Dummies’. After taking an Introduction to Politics course at SUNY Farmingdale, Steven learned that America has one of the lowest geography literacy rates, meaning if a U.S. citizen were asked to locate a nation on a map, they would be unable to do so. This sparked his interest in exploring geographical study. 

“In the series, I go through all of the United Nations member states. Each nation gets their own TikTok video, and I educate people on their basic facts. This includes their locations, population size, cities, and languages. I will also explain the meaning of their flags. Sometimes I’ll include fun facts about the countries,” said Steven. 

Each TikTok is usually under one minute long, but takes extensive preparation. Steven first researches whichever topic he covers in a video. This means getting accurate information, accumulating pictures, and creating a script to read through as a voiceover. Then comes filming the videos themselves, along with editing in music, captions, and transitions. 

“TikTok can actually be very stressful. Last year, when we were still in the midst of online learning, it was easier to have a schedule that allowed me to post one video a day. Now, in my senior year, as an IB diploma candidate, a three season varsity athlete, and having a job, it is hard to keep up,” said Steven. 

Despite any challenges Steven has faced in creating entertaining videos for his followers, he remains grateful for the experiences TikTok has allowed him to be a part of, from working on sponsorship content with Mini Museum to being on an exclusive creator interview with Nicki Minaj. He even has some famous fans, including History Channel, Pilot Pens, and the Smithsonian Channel. 

“I am a part of  #learnontiktok which is a community within TikTok creators that focuses on education and teaching. Their team sends me gifts on holidays sometimes. For example, I got a skateboard, sweatshirts, and even a cake. They also give me opportunities to meet with other content creators or celebrities,” said Steven. 

Steven mentions how History for Dummies has given him a platform to reach people across the country in unique ways.

“I love looking at the comments and seeing the different people who are there. Some watch my videos to learn something new, while others are there just for fun. Actually, a few months ago a teacher commented on my post and told me that she puts my videos on her Google Classroom for her students to use as review,” said Steven. 

Steven’s TikTok account started off as a passion for the subject of history and quickly turned into a platform for others to learn from. He continues to create videos and cites History for Dummies as having ‘changed his life.’ 

“Throughout our childhood we’ve always been told by adults that social media can be extremely negative and [what you post] could come back to haunt you. But, no one ever taught us how beneficial social media can be and how much it has become an integral part of me,” said Steven. 🔳