On Wednesday the 14th at 10:00, a group of students stood up and walked out of my classroom. There were too many of them for it to just be a coincidence. As it turns out, there was a national school walkout that day to mark one month since the Parkland mass shooting and advocate for better gun control laws.
On Valentine’s day, one month ago, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz walked into his former High School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. He killed 17 people and with a .233-caliber AR-15 rifle. He is still alive and has been indicted for 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree.
Over 3,000 different schools participated in the walkout according to the EMPOWER website, a branch of the Women’s March which organized the walkout. Lasting 17 minutes, one minute for each victim, the walkout brought the attention of the nation and each school community to the importance of gun control for students. For many students, this was their first political demonstration. Whether it was out of respect for the deceased or love for their fellow students, the walkout brought into the light one of the darkest parts of modern America, school shootings.
As the students left my classroom, I was reminded of the devastating effects of a school shooting. The rest of class wasn’t the same with a few of the students gone. It gave me a tiny glimpse of what it would be like to lose a fellow peer or friend permanently.
Their evacuation from the classroom echoed the evacuation after a school shooting with everyone leaving their belongings and just trying to get as far away from the school as possible. However, instead of running from danger like in a real shooting, they were walking towards the safety of themselves and others so that no one would have to run away from a school shooter. They were walking into justice.
Out of all the many problems with American Public Schools, one is probably a bit more of an issue then most of the others.
It’s not teacher pay (which is abysmal, pay your teachers!) and it’s not the woefully large number of school shootings that happen pretty much every day (the solution is gun reform not more guns IMO)- it’s how unbearably Eurocentric our history classes are.
And even then, it’s incredibly biased.
From basically day one you learn the same thing, the Colonial period with the “kind Indians,” the Revolutionary War, Slavery and the Civil War, then there’s usually a skip up to WW1 to WW2.
Unless you take a college level (AP) class or an elective you probably aren’t going to learn about African cultures and history (I didn’t until my sophomore literature class when we read "Things Fall Apart") or Asian culture and history (except the information necessary to describe the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ).
Not to mention the Middle East? That place we’ve been bombing for over a decade? Definitely not.
How are Americans supposed to truly understand the world around them, not to mention the politics and economics involved, if they don’t know history? And they can’t just know American and European history. That’s simply not enough. I understand teachers only have a limited amount of time and that they have to go over whatever the state tells them to but, seriously, guys. Americans are constantly being laughed at for this- and like I said- it’s a big issue. One reason why is that by only showing American and European history, its seriously skewing students perspectives. American students think the US is always the hero- think Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s "Team America: World Police."
I would be remiss to not mention that there are a lot of holes in the American and European history we’re taught too. (I do realize some of these things shouldn’t be taught to like elementary age kids but holding out till the last two years of high school is a bit much). I’m talking about the fact that it wasn’t just Jews who were slaughtered in the Holocaust but the Romani, members of the LGBT community, political rivals, mentally disabled people, and more. I’m also talking about the utterly horrific things the white American government has been and continues to do to our Native American population. Or that Hitler/the Nazi Party got a lot of inspiration on their ideas on Eugenics from the U.S.
I understand that this is very hard stuff. But this isn’t even scratching the surface of what we don’t teach our kids. This is just one history student’s opinion. When it comes to other stuff, the sciences, math- how to do our taxes? Someone more knowledgeable on those topics is gonna have to speak up because I’ve got no doubt they are just as woefully inadequate as the historical topics taught in our public schools.