Friday, January 30, 2004

World History in the Secondary School Curriculum.

World History in the Secondary School Curriculum. Should world history be taught in American secondary schools? Yes!

From the site:

Since 1980 an increasing number of state and local education agencies have reintroduced a world history requirement into their secondary curricula. These mandates have raised important questions about the nature of such a course and its role in the curriculum. This ERIC Digest looks at some of the key questions in the debate over world history. It examines (1) the background for issues of curriculum reform in world history, (2) the choice between Western and "world" history, (3) the trend toward social history, (4) the viability of the traditional historical survey, and (5) the issue of whether world history should be taught over more than one year.

WHAT IS THE BACKGROUND TO CURRENT DEBATES ABOUT CURRICULUM REFORM IN WORLD HISTORY? In 1963, world history was the second most commonly taken high school social studies course. Although called "world" history, the course dealt almost exclusively with Western political history, typically a chronological survey of the actions and contributions of great men.

By the mid-1970s world history had fallen from favor. Most states and local school districts had dropped this decades-old requirement to give students greater academic freedom. Many schools offered alternative "world studies" courses, usually based on cultural geography.

The standard world history course also changed. By the end of the decade more attention was being given to social history and the non-Western world. As a result the threads of the old political survey were frayed. The course seemed to be a mishmash of conflicting goals and unrelated content.

The movement toward academic rigor in the early 1980s gave new impetus to world history. The easiest way for most schools to respond to outside pressure was to re-establish the world history requirement. Today states as diverse as Kentucky, New Jersey, Arkansas, and Oregon have some kind of tenth-grade world studies requirement. But the shape of that course differs greatly from one place to another. The once uniform image of "world history" no longer exists.

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