Schools should teach more current events
People like to complain about high school, especially public high school, for nearly everything; the sports teams weren’t good enough, the kids were mean there, there were no clubs to fit every interest, classes were too hard, the teachers stunk and many, many more.
But the biggest flaw in public high school wasn’t the sports teams or the intensity of the classes.
I’ve only ever been exposed to Florida public education systems, and I was never given the opportunity to take a class related to current events in politics, economics or world issues.
Sure, those topics might have come up in passing during some of my history classes, but that’s not what the classes’ focuses were on.
Public schools, in Florida at least, place heavy emphasis on math and English classes, with science and social studies classes usually taking the back seat.
In most public high schools, with the exception of magnet schools, students need four credits in math and English classes in order to graduate, but they’re only required to take three credits in social studies and science courses.
And even if high schools do offer electives that focus on current events and the like, most high school students are more likely to pick an easier class because they want a break from AP courses, or they want more time for sports and social lives.
Unless they have a genuine interest in the subject and want to learn more, or if they think the class will possibly help them with their potential major in college, high school students aren’t going to take a difficult class if it’s not required of them.
But classes that focus specifically on current events should exist, and at least a credit should be required of students in all public schools.
Here’s the deal: if students aren’t learning about it in school from a class, or if they don’t actively research it because they’re interested in current events, they’re not going to know what’s going on in their country or in the world.
Last semester, I took a course called Peace and Conflict in the Public Sphere, which focused on the crisis of Bosnia-Herzegovina and on the rising conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For the first few weeks, I couldn’t really grasp what was being talked about in the lectures, and the textbook was difficult to read because it wasn’t meant for undergraduate students.
Similarly, this semester, I am taking the second half of a year-long course called American Military Memoirs.
Last semester, we focused on the Vietnam War, which I had previously learned about in my high school history courses. But when we got to Iraq and Afghanistan this semester, I felt like I was in the same boat as I was in last fall.
Since I had limited exposure to these topics before taking these college courses, I automatically felt unqualified to be participating in class because I felt like I didn’t know enough about the subjects to be analyzing and discussing them.
On the flip side, taking these classes also encouraged me to do research on current events on my own and take the initiative to keep myself up to date.
Part of the lack of knowledge was my fault. I could have done a better job of keeping up with current events, and each student does have a responsibility to keep up with what’s going on in the world. But it would have made it a lot easier for me if I had been required to take a current events-based class in high school.
Incorporating new classes or more specific education standards in public schools may be difficult, especially due to Common Core and the “teaching to the test” phenomenon.
While there currently are standards related to current events, like conflicts in the Middle East, they are either glazed over or ignored because they’re not as likely to be on state assessments like the EOC.
Reform starts with recognizing the need for change, and if we all see that there is a general lack of understanding of current events, both locally and internationally, then public schools can adapt their systems to accommodate students and actually teach them about history in the making, not just standard history.