Now I know that most of you appreciate that I take positions all over the political spectrum. I have been referred to as a "Leftist" Liberal to a right wing "Libertarian." Like most Americans, I consider myself to be an independent - typically falling Center-Right on the political spectrum. But when it comes to the new IB education program, I am afraid I find myself falling on the hard right! Yes, the hard right!
As an educator, I work on a daily basis to challenge my students to critically analyze and think for themselves. Many of my students are required to write term papers and to produce presentations. So why would I be clamoring against a program that requires a rigorous curriculum that meets that same level of student commitment? Because nowhere in the IB curriculum are American students required to take courses in AMERICAN history and AMERICAN government. In fact, under the IB program, the study of history is offered as a two track option.
One track "explores the main developments in the history of Europe and the Islamic world from 500
to 1570 while the second track focuses on 20th century world history. Whichever route is selected
the course provides both structure and flexibility, fostering an understanding of major historical
events in a global context. It requires students to make comparisons between similar and dissimilar
solutions to common human situations, whether they be political, economic or social. It invites
comparisons between, but not judgments of, different cultures, political systems and national traditions."(See http://www.ibo.org/en/programmes/diploma-programme/curriculum/individuals-and-societies/history/).
According to administrators at my school, students may take American history and/or government, but it is solely an option. Based upon the extensive work load piled onto students in the IB program, those currently enrolled in the program admit there is no real room in their schedules to take American history or government.
Now I am all for students learning about the history of the world and international relationships, but excluding any curriculum on the founding of America and our great Constitution leaves me a bit puzzled. If the International Baccalaureate does not include American history and government, what kind of American history education will American students receive? None, and that is what upsets me. You see, students learn American "Civics" and "History" in middle school. Can anyone really remember what they were taught in Middle/Jr. High School? Really?
At my school, the best and the brightest students are pressured to enroll in the IB program. Why? Because it has artificially become the "most rigorous" of the education pathways to graduation - allegedly the only insurance available to guarantee admission into top tier colleges and universities. What kind of students then are we going to produce? Those ready to engage with peers across the globe? You bet. But those students will be laking a strong education in American history and government. So, what type of American Citizens will we be producing? As it stands now, non-IB enrolled high school students in Florida are not required to take American history that occurred before the civil war (only Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment provide this education). In other words, most students only learn about America's Founders and Framers while in 7th and 8th grades, let alone how our democracy evolved from 1776. This is a true travesty!
I know I sound like a far right wing nut. But any high school education program that does not require American students to learn American history and government... well, is unAmerican! As President Thomas Jefferson once wrote; "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." I doubt he meant to exclude American History and Government from the pillars that preserve our true American liberty! American citizenship requires education in American history and government- and not one that omits it! Have a great week!