Changes to the social science curriculum to be more inclusive

How BIPOC narratives are coming to light in a eurocentric curriculum

The Social Science department, which includes subjects such as world history, U.S. history and geopolitics, has been recently discussing ways to make their curriculum more inclusive in terms of diversity and representation of BIPOC, which means Black and/or indigenous people of color. Every student is required to take at least one social science class each year.

“With history, it’s like, you get one perspective of it and it’s pretty much the colonization side of it for the most part. You don’t get much perspective about the side that was forced into the situation, so it’s like, that needs to be there rather than just one side of everything,” senior Brianna Richardson said. “Juneteenth needs to show up somewhere. What’s sad is that I didn’t even learn about Juneteenth in school.”

The curriculum taught in classrooms is chosen by the state, rather than the teachers themselves. Social science teacher DJ Cook spoke about how the U.S. has many regional variations of history textbooks, and before the “No Child Left Behind Act,” many teachers had autonomy in their classroom. States with the largest market in their region are able to define history with their own interpretations, allowing for neglect in some areas of history. 

“Black people were forced to come here,” Richardson said. “I want to see both sides of the story, rather than just one straight line perspective, and more explanation of it.”

Some teachers have tried to counteract the eurocentric focal point of history by creating their own classes. Cook has been working on the geopolitics course for 14 years, and this class is now available to be taken for economics credit. Cook wants the class to have a more global world view that gives students a broader social science education that goes past the European world. 

“I want to be on the right side of truth and the right side of history and if 50 years from now, it’s finally realized what I was trying to accomplish, to me, that’s more successful than if people understand it today,” Cook said.

As far as changes made in the Social Science department as a whole, there have been discussions about the addition of an ethnic study course.

“I think the more information you have the better off you are going to be, and I think if this is an area of need, it needs to be addressed. So, I hope the district is moving forward on that front because I believe in it,” world history and U.S. history teacher Todd Creason said.

Recent events have caused a higher demand for BIPOC inclusion within schools, especially in the history curriculum. Creason mentioned how distance learning is causing problems with the ability to make these specific changes. Teachers are working hard to do whatever they can to overcome these challenges. 

“The last thing I would ever want to do is make someone feel like they were unwelcome because that would just break my heart, because as a teacher it doesn’t matter if it’s now or 25 years ago, that was my goal, to create an environment where you feel safe and I will continue to do that no matter what. I want everybody to feel safe and accepted,” Creason said.