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History curriculums around the world are in dire need of an update

‘Please, teach us’

Editor’s note: This column by Lauren Brace was originally published in The Central Trend.

Lauren Brace is a junior at Forest Hills Central High School and junior writer at The Central Trend. When she isn’t stressing out about time, she can often be found laughing with her amazing friends and family or thriving in extracurricular activities such as marching band and Student Council. Her favorite activities include reading, writing and singing. Above all, she cherishes the incredible bond she shares with her twin sister, Tara Brace, and all of the memories spent together.

I hated the monotonous cycle of history class. Growing up, we perpetually reviewed the same facts, stuck on the same topic year after year, unable to escape. Prior to high school, when some of the world’s largest historical moments were brought up, I could hardly recall a significant figure or outcome.

Beloved teachers are forced to review the same topics over and over, only skimming the surface and never having the time to go in-depth. However, the basic facts are useless without learning the overall impacts and background information regarding the millions unmentioned involved in the fight for humanity.

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History is unique from every other core class with one simple fact: it is always evolving. For each generation, there’s always more material to cram when it comes to the history curriculum. With this, it’s understandable that the curriculum would be out of date, but an update is long overdue nonetheless. 

The amount of math and spelling that primary school teachers are expected to cover is immense, while going over a history unit seems to merely be a suggested bonus. 

This vital subject is arguably the most important for young students. Learning how to multiply fractions or how to use a semicolon can wait, but what about gaining empathy for all the generations that have come before: the heroes, the oppressed and the forgotten?

In addition, the exciting projects involved with history—building pyramids, dressing up from medieval times, and reenacting famous scenes—can be some of the most beneficial of them all. These subjects provide easily adaptable, hands-on activities that engage young students. 

Some may argue that events such as world wars are too violent, depressing and intense for a young audience. While this is a valid point, it’s important to also acknowledge that the same young audience spends their free time reading books, playing video games and watching movies in which there is already abundant violence. 

In addition, an even stronger argument can be made in claiming that such heavy topics would be an enriching experience to gain empathy and compassion for others.

I was ashamed when my sophomore history teacher mentioned the famous Stonewall riots, and I had no idea what he was talking about. Organizations such as the Daughters of Bilitis, the Mattachine Society and major events in the gay rights movement are rarely included in the school curriculum. 

Over and over, students learn about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, but other significant civil rights activists such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Malcolm X are left out of the curriculum prior to high school. An unacceptable number of names and events are left out, and this needs to be changed. 

Some of the best-written textbooks in the world seem to have forgotten some of the most pivotal moments in creating the world we live in today. 

If only 10 more minutes were carved out of every school day dedicated to learning about our past, students would gain a broader understanding of the world they live in. Without learning about our mistakes, we can never learn from them.

I know it sounds cliche to say “You don’t know what you don’t know,” but never has this been more apparent than learning about our own history. It’s impossible to grow from the past without, at a minimum, talking about the many movements that changed our way of life. 

Students around the world are begging to be taught without even knowing it. Please, teach us.

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