I love American history. I spent practically the whole 13 years of my public school education learning about the American Revolution over and over again and learning about designated “prominent” figures over and over again. Repetition is so enriching,especially continually taught from the same perspective so that American ideologies are not threatened.
My intellectual life was spared when I took International Baccalaureate history courses versus the traditional public school curriculum. It wasn’t until my eleventh grade year in high school that I learned Christopher Columbus was a murderer. It only took twelve years. For once in my life I learned about Mao in China, the Russian Revolution, and Communist Cuba and so many more events not covered by the traditional U.S. curriculum.
I had high expectations that college would continue to broaden my knowledge about the world. Yet I arrived at college and I am faced with the same bias – American history in collegiate form: Introduction to American government, the History of Journalism in the United States and the Freedom of Speech in the United States.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe everyone should know a great deal about their country’s government and history, but learning about it my whole academic life is not informing, it is just plain ignorant. How many of us can say we know the history of Nigeria or India or Venezuela? And even worse, how many of us can name at least ten people who attended the Second Continental Congress? It wouldn’t be so bad if American history discussed all aspects-the big, the bad and the ugly. We don’t hear much about the Civil Rights Movement, Native American genocide, or Vietnam…instead we are spoon fed that Lincoln was a good president. Despite curriculum efforts to inform us of American history, how many of us can name twenty other presidents aside from the most famous, infamous, or contemporary ones?
There is always the argument, “Why learn anything that is irrelevant to the U.S. government or relations?” Two years ago we could have said, “Why learn about the nation of Islam?” Yet September 11th sent educators scrambling just to make sure their curriculum covered aspects of the Middle East.
Is it America’s isolation form the rest of the world and our supremacy ideologies that keep us enriched in our ignorance? Or is it the fact that we don’t require our citizens to be bilingual in something other then pop culture?
Until we make a move to be more informed we will forever be isolated in our “wonderful” democratic ideologies, ignorant to reality.
Marquita K. Bell is a sophomore majoring in print journalism and politcal science