Teach Current Events While They’re Still Relevant

Do you know who Momar Qaddafi was? Do you know how many prisoners were exchanged for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit? If you don’t know the answers to these questions or if you didn’t know these people exist, you’re not alone. Teaching current events is a rarity in school. That is, if they’re part of the curriculum at all.

What students will learn in school today has very little to do with the events of today. We don’t even learn what is going on in Cleveland. Sure, the AP Government students can recite all of the amendments from memory and APUSH students might know the perfect way to answer a document-based question, but how many of those students can name all seven of the candidates who ran for City Council?

Face it: 20 years down the road, Arab Spring may make it in to the history books, but for the most part, the generation of people who are living through it know nothing about it.

Current events shouldn’t be an excuse to get extra credit, but that is what they have become. Recently, I earned 10 extra credit points for finding 10 seconds worth of daily news to discuss. Why are we being rewarded for something we should have been doing in the first place? Current events are more interesting than the history that I am learning for the third time. Even though it’s been a year since I last learned about the Civil War, I still remember the story. Your DBQ is not going to get you much farther than the AP test, and the amendments might help you if you choose to have a career in law. However, if we are learning to be worldly students and achievers, we must understand how to keep up to date on world events. With the district’s move to the International Baccalaureate program, current world news should be part of every student’s daily experience. And, if teachers spent a little bit of time each week on current events, maybe more people would pay attention.

By the way, if you didn’t know the answers to the questions mentioned earlier, Momar Qaddafi was the Libyan dictator who was overthrown by the Libyan people last October. One thousand and twenty seven prisoners were exchanged for Gilad Shalit because the Israeli army values human life above all other things. The names of the seven people who ran for city council are James Brady, Ed Long, Nancy Moore, Christopher Ramsay, Juliana Johnston Senturia, Dartanian Warr and Earl Williams.

Now, do you know who won?

 A version of this article appeared in print on 21 November 2011, on page 5 of The Shakerite.

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