History courses need diversity

Ramona Shekhar , Assistant Entertainment Editor

High schools across the U.S. offer history courses where students can foster their knowledge of Western history and culture such as AP U.S. History and AP European History. But where does this leave room for Asian and African studies?

Over the years, the U.S. education system has made European and Western teachings a focal point for its history classes while leaving out important events that derive from other regions. Essentially, the American curriculum has failed to adequately incorporate classes that embrace the vast knowledge of other societies in all parts of the globe.

Textbooks used to educate students have a tremendous amount of information explaining Western events and accomplishments. However, the history originating from regions outside of the West are not as prevalent. Although in 10th-grade students have a chance to learn about Modern World History, the majority of content is heavily focused on Europe. Because of this lack of exposure to marginalized communities, minority students are granted with little-to-no representation. The less recognition they receive for their culture, the less likely they are to succeed in their subjects. According to The Guardian, African American students were 1.5 times more likely than white students to drop out of college because they did not feel like they had a cultural connection to their studies.

“Currently, a lot of our subjects focus on Western concepts and countries, which are colonizing powers and the more developed countries,” says sophomore student Vaishnavi Vatsal. “It is important to teach and preserve cultures from developing countries since they have so much diversity in them.”

Students should expand their knowledge outside of the curriculum to learn about other notable civilizations that have made important contributions to the society they see today. Research has shown that diversity in school subjects has strengthened students’ problem-solving, critical, and cognitive skills, according to The Century Foundation.

“I think it is paramount for minority students to see their cultures represented in history courses,” Modern World History teacher Stacey Bogus said. “It helps to foster an understanding and appreciation of their heritage, culture, and importance.”

Bringing awareness to other cultures through an inclusive and intersectional education disrupts any misconceptions students may have in their studies. If schools teach their students about societies and civilizations in other continents such as Asia and Africa, these students could possibly discover a new major they want to pursue in college or life.

Fortunately, several schools in the U.S. are pushing for a more ethnically and culturally diverse curriculum. The 2020 U.S. Census Bureau has found that the Asian population has grown from 10.5 million to 18.9 million in a matter of 19 years. This gradual rise of minorities has encouraged New Jersey and Illinois to mandate Asian history in their history programs, according to NBC News.

Spring-Ford is in the process of assimilating more diverse teachings in its curriculum by offering courses such as AP Human Geography, where students can cultivate their knowledge of different cultures and concepts around the world.

“I think as time marches forward, we will see more diverse course offerings, maybe in the form of electives for students across grade levels,” says Bogus. “I also think Spring-Ford has shown they are working toward this goal through their creation of new extra-curricular clubs such as the Cultural Diversity Club and panel discussions at the district and high school level dealing with diversity which is wonderful to see!”

Hopefully, the U.S. education system will consider implementing this improvement across the nation. To ensure that students gain a broader understanding and appreciation of other cultures, schools must make fundamental changes to expand and diversify their curriculum and bring attention to global issues outside of the Western perspective. Such change and reform can only be accomplished if administrations take action to create a more open learning environment.