Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why We Need to Teach World History

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D. and Nina Kendall

            We have a generation of children who know the hard choices families and communities make during an economic crisis. Despite reports of economic improvement, joblessness, food insecurity, and poverty play significant roles in the lives of many Americans. The most recent economic crisis continues to plague states, communities and families today.

In the ongoing search for the best way to serve American citizens education is once again the battleground. This time the battle line has been drawn in Ohio.  Changes in graduation requirements by the Ohio State Legislature and supported by the Ohio Department of Education would eliminate World History as a required course for high school graduation.   World History would become an elective. It is conceivable that in some districts the course could be eliminated completely, a victim of survivor style economic decisions. Educators everywhere have realized that if a course is not mandated or assessed, it will frequently not be taught. 

There is an effort to add at least one semester via the World History Bill (OH SB 96).  If this bill is passed it will only require 1 unit of the study of World History “and civilizations” as part of the required courses for high school graduation in Ohio.  The bill will be before the Ohio Senate Education Committee on February 19, 2014 and pending approval will move onto the full Senate for a vote.  

As educators, it is hard for us to understand why a state would not require students to study World History in order to graduate.  An understanding of how the past has shaped the relationships this country has with other nations and how those international relationships impact our economy is vital to economic success for individuals, states, and nations. Yet, the students of Ohio are asked to exit High School with little understanding of the World, past, present and future, they live in. 

If you feel as strongly as we do, we urge you to lobby and contact Ohio State Senators and Representatives about the importance of students learning about World History and Civilizations.  The Ohio Council of Social Studies is also asking for letters of support from business, education, and organization leaders, parents, and other concerned citizens from across the state and nation to demonstrate the support SB 96 and the need for students to take World History in addition to American History and Government as a part of their high school education. 

While our home state does mandate World History, US History, Government and Economics must be mastered before graduation; we do understand and empathize with the plight of Ohio educators.  Our state periodically debates the need for Geography.  The United Sates is part of the Global Community. It is vital that American citizens are educated to understand and respond to the world and global economy shaped by world events. Cutting World History as a graduation requirement is a disservice to individual Americans and to the state. Tough times call for tough decisions but leaving students less prepared is not the option.


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