I was troubled to hear of recent news that the Oklahoma legislature recently approved a bill that would rewrite and potentially eliminate the Advanced Placement US History course from being taught in schools. The reason given for this bill was that the course paints the United States in a negative light. When I first heard of this news my first thought was that this had to be headlines from an Onion article and this could not possibly be true. It was truly unfortunate that, after conducting research, to hear that talks of taking away valuable points of learning from our students was taking place. Not only are the decisions of this legislature preposterous, but the academic detriment that will be placed on the students will be insurmountable.
History, much like reading and math and science, is integral to the fabric of our education system. History has the power to stir emotions, challenge our beliefs, explore cultures and identities, and produce conversation on the ever-expanding ideologies of our nation. There is no good in avoiding the negatives of our past as we are able to use these as a reflection and a path on what it is to come and what actions to take. This subject has the ability to explore customs and teach us about the practices of our ancestors, the same practices that have shaped us to become the citizens we are today.
Not only is history important to evaluating the decisions we have made to mark each step in our development, it is one of the few ways we are able to explore multiculturalism in schools. In a previous blog post I wrote, I mentioned that the lack of multicultural studies in our classrooms have the possibility of alienating student identities and limiting important conversation in the classroom. It would be a slippery slope to remove all stains of United States history from our curriculum seeing as most of these stains have to do with the oppression of minority groups. Often times the only talk of these identities in our history books have to do with either oppression or civil rights, both of if which are incredibly important and add to the importance of this nation.
I could not help but draw parallels to banning AP US history to the old practice of banning books; both of which are done in order to censor students and unfavorable content. Censoring students from sensitive topics does nothing but dissuade students from engaging in conversation that has the ability to be both enlightening and eye-opening, especially on sensitive topics that illustrate the struggles of minority and troubled groups. Censoring and banning history and books does nothing more than hide students from the truth and hiding from the truth will never make it disappear.
To conclude, in my opinion America is not perfect, hell I would be unsure if to even call it beautiful. American certainly has blood on her hands and these stains will likely never wash away. Although the history is tainted by violence and oppression it is important to learn from the mistakes of our past in order to reflect and grow as citizens in this country. To whitewash and erase history is to white wash and erase the identities and differing attitudes that has made America the country it is today and this is something we cannot allow to happen.