Waiting for history: Desire for multicultural history courses

Waiting for history: Desire for multicultural history courses

History has nearly always been my favorite subject. Those lessons of the past aid our understanding of the future, and advocate for making better decisions and adhering to the common phrase of ‘learning from your mistakes’.
It was this love for the subject that became a principal part of my decision to take AP World History (WHAP) in my sophomore year.

“[History puts] in[to] perspective [the] different interactions of people, it help[s] us build a better place.”

— Karissa Venditti

I was enthralled with the multicultural, global stories and context that WHAP wove together, and I found myself wanting another AP history course. However, my options were scant: AP U.S. History and AP European History.
While I have nothing against either US or European history, I was disappointed to see a distinct lack of Asian, African, or South American history curricula. This gap seemed nearly ironic, considering the first civilizations were indeed formed in Mesopotamia, a part of the Asian continent. However, this gap is not simply coincidental. It is the result of a lack of student interest and conflicts with district requirements.
“You can make anything work if there’s an interest,” WHAP and AP European History teacher Karissa Venditti said. “But you’ve got to have more than just two or three students that’d be like, ‘Yeah, I’d take that.’”
In discussing history curriculums, we need to take into account how the district standards for graduation affect a student’s desire to enroll in a course. In terms of social studies, the requirements are World Geography or World History, U.S. history, U.S. government, and finally, Economics. Thus, for a student attempting to fill all of the graduation requirements, there is little room left for a specialized history course.
“That is part of the challenge,” Social Studies Department Head Liesl Patteson said. “If it doesn’t align well, then someone has to count it as an elective class. That makes fewer people choose it.”
Even if students were able to carve out space in their schedules for an elective history course, a question remains of whether or not they would be willing or interested in taking such a course. Particularly if it is at an AP level.
“AP History [classes], they’re hard. Just because they’re an elective, doesn’t mean they’re easy,” Venditti said. “Just because my [AP European History] class is a lot of fun, doesn’t make it always easy.”
For students who already fill their schedules with AP curriculums, or even students who don’t, tacking on another AP elective is a daunting task. Since students are hesitant to worsen their existing workload, interest declines.
However, despite these contingencies, the hope for more multicultural history classes is not dead. In fact, the AP College Board is currently piloting an AP African History course at select schools. Additionally, opportunities such as the IB program, ACC dual credit classes, and foreign language courses offer an alternative for students seeking this type of curriculum.
Also, the success of AP European History has become a beacon of hope for those vying for more specialized history courses.
“I mean, [AP European History] has grown from eight kids, to 40,” Venditti said. “It grows every year, so I’m really proud of that class. And I love to teach [it].”
Seeing this amazing growth in interest sparks hope that perhaps, eventually, the histories of other regions will garner the same attention that European history currently does: courses that serve as comprehensive opportunities to explore the stories behind the many colorful and unique cultures of the world will finally be implemented.

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About the Contributor
Julia Bychowski
Julia Bychowski, Editor
Julia Bychowski is a junior and is so excited to be News Editor on the Voice. Aside from writing, Julia enjoys listening to true crime podcasts, hanging out with her friends, and reading trashy fantasy books. Julia is also a member of Model UN, Debate, UIL Academics, and has been playing the cello for almost five years.  

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