Ward: History needs to be taught fully


Editorials, columns and cartoons.

Madison Ward

American history, or history in general, does not usually come with the option to put a personal spin on the subject. More than anything, history happens and then we throw it in a textbook to make sure our posterity knows the truth, or so we were led to believe.

Recently, a few states in our nation called into question the effectiveness and necessity of what is being taught in advance placement U.S. history classes in high schools across the country. And according to an Oklahoma State Rep. Dan Fisher, the program needs a complete overhaul or even a ban to emulate an attitude of “American exceptionalism” and he proposed a bill to do so.

In Fisher’s eyes, our high school history education taught us everything that America did wrong and didn’t focus on the good things, which is why he wants to kick start change. Comments and beliefs like these make me wonder if Fisher ever even cracked a high school history textbook because from what I can recall, my textbook read like a 500-page promotion for the US of A with a few good ol’ American missteps sprinkled in for flavor.

Imagine with me for a moment that these changes are actually put into motion. The course is altered to highlight all the wonderful contributions America made to the world, while at the same time sugarcoats the atrocities we committed as well. What kind of education would that be? Americans are already way too full of themselves in the present day. Inflating our ego even more by playing up every choice we ever made since our country’s birth would not help anything. But even more important than that, it wouldn’t be an accurate portrayal of what actually happened.

Most high school students generally aren’t huge fans of memorizing confusing names and dates and trying to keep all the information straight, yet they do it anyway because our government says they have to. The least our education system can do is tell them what actually happened. If these changes were actually used, the class would no longer be called AP U.S. History, but AP U.S. Propaganda.

All of this being said, I don’t think we should be concerned about showing how awesome America is/was. In fact, I think that we should be teaching students about how this country screwed up and then how we recovered. After all, isn’t teaching history the way we learn what not to do in the future? If we go along teaching impressionable young people only about the good things and skipping the bad, couldn’t the bad things theoretically happen again? Logically, that answer would be, yes.

However, I think the most upsetting part of this whole proposal is the fact that the government is trying to step in and tell high school students what did and didn’t happen in history and therefore dictating what it is we learn about our country. First of all, Mr. Fisher didn’t experience the history he is trying to change, so what gives him the right to alter how it’s printed in a textbook? And second of all, we are talking about what students are learning, so I believe they should have a say in it. Of course that isn’t how we play ball in the US, which is why a junior in Oklahoma, Moin Nadeem, started a petition to stop this change.

I implore you to go sign it because although we aren’t in high school anymore, we are still students and we have the right to learn the real truth, both good and bad, about our country as do high school students. After all, history is fact, not fiction.