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Students want an updated Social Studies curriculum that teaches a broader worldview

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Kevin Sabeti-Oseid, Editorials Editor

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A significant number of students graduate Mounds View without ever taking a non-Eurocentric social studies course. Eurocentrism—defined by Merriam-Webster as “reflecting a tendency to interpret the world in terms of European or Anglo-American values and experiences”—inevitably disregards global perspectives to create a whitewashed view of the world.

Mounds View needs to revise its social studies curriculum to include a wider worldview.

Currently, students following the typical social studies track will take Economics in freshman year, with a curriculum containing mostly European theories.

The next year in their U.S. History class, students will learn more about European colonizers than the equally important indigenous peoples and immigrants of color who have greatly influenced our country.

Some students may get their first exposure to a non-Eurocentric curriculum during junior year with World History (At/Med and Pac/Indo), but juniors looking for a more rigorous history class will take AP European History and learn again about the accomplishments of Europeans—only discussing other continents when examining European influence.

Finally, seniors will take a course on U.S. government that overlooks the successes and failures of different variations of government in other countries.

Under a Eurocentric system, students can subconsciously adopt a dangerous tendency to interpret history through a Western lens and form stereotypical generalizations of other cultures. Students may never realize that not everyone in Africa is starving. They could think of “Asian” and completely overlook the cultures outside of East Asia. There would be little knowledge of the great civilizations that existed across the Americas. Students could misunderstand current conflicts in Southwest Asia and their true origins. The list goes on.

Educated graduates should understand not only their own culture, but those of nations around the world. For students to be responsible global citizens, they must understand more than just the culture that belongs to the majority, and have other ethnicities be less “foreign” in their perspective.

The simplest solution would be replacing AP European History with AP World History. All students would therefore be required to take a non-European world history course, moving the Mounds View curriculum away from a Eurocentric social studies focus.

Another option would be to replace AP U.S. Government with a class like AP Comparative Government and Politics, where students compare political systems and governments across the globe and learn about how they interact. Instead of only understanding one’s own government, students would be exposed to different ways to govern a population and understand the advantages and disadvantages of each.

While substituting these courses would be a step in the right direction, the problem of Eurocentrism stems not only from classes offered, but from the course material itself. Students are often required to learn the historical perspectives of Europeans as required by the state standards, not solely directed by the teacher.

In addition, while the College Board has created AP World, it is not an entirely satisfactory solution. AP World is expected to compress 7,000 years of non-white history into one class. Why is there no AP Asian History or AP African History? Major work needs to be done to provide students with a diverse cast of figures to create a more realistic portrayal of history.

With the multiple negative effects that can result from a flawed, Eurocentric curriculum, Mounds View must provide students an education that holds a broader standpoint. Students who only are exposed to one historical perspective may never appreciate or understand the cultural achievements of other societies. Students of color deserve to have their cultures be recognized without exception in an educational setting. Mounds View can’t build an inclusive community when it continues to exclude a fair teaching of history.

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