The rest is [valuable] history

Maisie Bradley, public relations editor

As he held the door open, I noticed the tie as quirky as his grin and heard him say, “Welcome to my world.” When I looked around the room and saw a stack of colorful hats and a globe painted on the back wall, it became clear to me that this wasn’t going to be like any other class I’d ever taken. During the course of the year, I realized that the Ottoman Empire wasn’t just the made-up word sixth-grade-me thought it was. I was able to see how geography heavily influenced the success of a society, whether it be the Fertile Crescent and Mesopotamia, or Japan’s isolation to the outside world. Most importantly, I was immersed into cultures and lives different than mine.

After learning that I would be a part of the last class to take AP World History with Tim Harig at KHS, I was worried that future students wouldn’t have the same opportunity I did: to learn about a world other than our own. Although world history still exists at KHS, only years past the 1450s are covered at the high school level. Due to a revision of the KSD social studies curriculum, the beginnings of civilization up to the 1450s are now taught in eighth grade. According to Dr. Michael Gavin, director of learning and innovation, through the rewriting of the social studies curriculum, KSD is making sure to provide a balance of Missouri, United States and world history. But since the curriculum is not yet fully implemented, I don’t feel like it’s fair to judge.

I do know, however, that KSD and every other public school district in Missouri looks to Missouri State guidelines that can be Eurocentric or have a viewpoint centered on western civilizations when creating their curriculum.

This isn’t just a problem in the United States. According to Harig, social studies teacher, countries around the world place a larger emphasis on their own region’s history. He said places like Tunisia focus on the Middle Eastern narrative as opposed to the western emphasis seen in the United States and Missouri. History is an argument, and limiting the evidence to overwhelmingly favor one side corrupts this dialogue.

There is an interconnectedness in our world, and the only way to see and understand this is to know all of the pieces. The political turmoil and lagging economy in Africa is well known throughout the globe, but knowing of the lasting effect the imperialism of western European nations during World War I has had on the continent allows for a deeper understanding of the issue.

Not only does knowledge of all of history allow for connections to be made from the present to the past in our world, but it also creates a shared understanding. An understanding between people of different societies affected by the same issues.  

“When we look at patterns and trends over time, continuity and change that also happens worldwide and social issues don’t change no matter what country you’re in,” Jessica Vehlewald, assistant principal, said. “It’s how we react to them and how we are interconnected. That’s the part that’s really huge and sometimes we become very Eurocentric or even ‘Americancentric.’ We need to look at some of the things from different lenses. ”    

This can only be accomplished if we make sure students across the globe learn all of history and not just the version that praises their region.

Humanity as a whole has a responsibility to not let history repeat itself. In order to do this, we need to all understand that history is a story shared between us, and not just isolated to our own separate countries and cultures.