World History: An Educational Necessity


Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.“- Nelson Mandela

As I’ve expressed repeatedly since beginning my journey with the Global Leadership Center, this program has opened my mind to so much of the world that I had never before considered. A great part about my college experience in general has been getting to see the world through the eyes of the people I get to befriend and work with. Coming from a small, sleepy town with a very limited amount of cultural diversity, the opportunity to interact with and learn from people with backgrounds different from my own is extremely refreshing, and has only been enhanced by the GLC.

I sincerely enjoy the exchanges that I have with my fellow students as we learn about the world and develop opinions on some of its most pressing issues. In fact, I’ve often wished that this process of global cultural awareness and understanding had begun in my educational environment before now. In my secondary education, I never felt particularly pushed to explore anything outside of the state-sanctioned testing requirements that were drilled into our heads. (Note: I don’t blame this on my teachers. Most of them were energetic and enthusiastic about their subjects, but were unfortunately bound by the restraints of standardized testing.) I often wish that my classmates and I, who represent the future of our country and our world, had been challenged to consider and critically analyze issues of global concern.

That’s why I’m very dismayed to read that current high school students in the state of Ohio may be the last to need a world history credit as part of their graduation requirements. This comes as the Ohio Graduation Test is being phased out and replaced by a new series of exams, which include assessments on American history and government, but nothing on world history.

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The concept of teaching solely in preparation for a standardized test is troubling enough to me. Even more troubling is the fact that public education officials don’t deem studies in world history, culture, and current events important enough to be included in the requirements for these tests.

From the perspective of many school districts, this would eliminate the need for high schools to offer courses in global studies.  They might be retained as electives in some instances, but it’s easy to imagine them being cut in economically challenged districts. The passing of Ohio Senate Bill 96, known as the World History Bill, would prevent this from occurring. A budget-neutral measure, it would require students to take at least one course in “the history of one or more cultures from around the world other than that of the United States” before graduation.

A governmental lack of emphasis on global studies is opposite the direction in which we should be moving as a nation. World history classes give students the opportunity to develop into citizens of the world, not only of the United States, and introduce them to perspectives that are different from their own. Instead of feeding the stereotype that Americans are culturally ignorant and ethnocentric, our government should be encouraging cross-cultural awareness through education.

If we want the future generations of this country to be competent leaders, if we want to see them tackle the issues of the present, we must provide them with an understanding of the history of the world as a whole, They must understand how international relations have shaped our current situation, and be able to use the knowledge of the past to create a better future. In this globally connected world, this knowledge is imperative.

Therefore, I support SB 96, and any other efforts to broaden the horizons of American students. To read the full proposal, click here. I’d love to hear some opinions in the comment section!

Sources:

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2014/10/25/1-students-need-exposure-to-world-history.html

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/11/21/graduation-test-to-be-subbed-out.html

http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/BillText130/130_SB_96_I_Y.html

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2 thoughts on “World History: An Educational Necessity

  1. I found myself when I started learning about cultures other than my own. Let me elaborate by saying that learning about the world and the differences among cultures has given me an opportunity to find something that I am passionate in. The fact that world history may not be incorporated anymore truly saddens me because I think to understand your own country’s history you need to be aware of the world as a whole. With the extensive connections we have with people from other countries as a result from social media, it only makes sense to know about their background as well. Our blogs are composed by knowledge we have acquired from learning about many other countries in the world and I can say that I have grown so much as a result. I will support world history being taught in schools and I would hate to see it disappear.

  2. I’m so glad that you wrote about this topic as it could highly affect the next generation of students! It is bothersome to me that world history could even be considered to phase out of early education. This will leave students unprepared to work in an international setting, and will definitely limit or completely demolish any global perspective they could’ve gained before college. Overall, this will leave students out of the competitive global market, unless they put in a lot of extra work to understand other cultures and events on their own. This also limits teachers, and could cause cutbacks on high school history teaching jobs. Lastly, we’ve all discussed how much the GLC has opened our eyes, but if students don’t have a basic knowledge of world history, will they even pursue programs like the GLC in the future?

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