There Should Be More History Classes


Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

There are three required high school social studies credits in the state of Michigan. The only required history classes are U.S. and World History, both year-long classes. In these classes, students learn the basics of history, which is often centered around the US and Europe, even in World History.

These classes don’t have enough time to go thoroughly in-depth about each historical event that impacts us today, causing them to leave out important stories such as those of women, people of color and so many more. Every student is different and has unique interests that keep them engrossed in the class. One student might be completely captivated by a unit on World War One, while another struggles to stay awake.

U.S. and World History are good jumpoff points. They allow students an opportunity to discover what parts of history excite them and what they’re passionate about. But after they complete these courses, what are they left with? Where can they go with their newfound interest?

If there were more optional history classes offered, it would give these students an outlet for their passions and help them foster a better understanding of history.

So many of high schoolers’ academic decisions are made with college in mind. When they see that only U.S. and World History classes are required to graduate, they often will work to get these credits out of the way and move on to seemingly more important classes such as Math, English and Science. This discourages students from pursuing higher education or a career in history.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of annual bachelor’s degrees earned in history, history teacher education,historic preservation and conservation fell more than a third from 2012. This is the smallest number awarded since the late 1980s.

When teachers who studied history get to teach about what they are passionate about, the students can feel that passion and it shows that there’s more to history than what’s required to learn. When students are able to see adults in their life pursue a career in history and see the opportunities that are out there for them that are more than just being teachers we are given the chance to have a future with a better understanding of our history.

I too was that person who saw history classes as just another credit to get out of the way. Maybe it was the inspiring and passionate teachers at Community High School or the fact that I was given a chance to learn about perspectives I had never heard before but after completing my social studies courses I was left wanting more and with a newfound interest in the way history is told. I missed having that block to discuss with my peers about important issues and reflect on our history. I’ve enjoyed the alternate history courses I’ve taken so far such as African American Studies but hope that in the future the history department continues to grow.

When we learn our history and work to discover others we benefit from a greater understanding of our world and the people around us. We can’t reverse history but we can lessen our chance to repeat it.