Eye of the Tiger

Lax history coverage costs awareness

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Lax history coverage costs awareness

(JASMINE LUNAR/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(JASMINE LUNAR/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(JASMINE LUNAR/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(JASMINE LUNAR/EYE OF THE TIGER)

DANELLE BENNETT

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I take offense to claims that Americans are uncultured, self-centered people with little to no understanding of the world around them. Not necessarily because that isn’t true, but because I have successfully pointed to South Korea on a map and feel I should get some credit for my elementary knowledge of the world.

It’s a pity, but the more I think about it, the more I realize my understanding of the eastern world is less of an understanding and more of a cliched summary of events. Gandhi led a peaceful revolution at some point in India, North Korea stopped talking to people, there’s a Chinese New Year and they don’t serve orange chicken.

While I could alleviate this ignorance by turning on a nice PBS documentary, there’s some stubborn part of me that feels it’s my school’s job to inform me. And shame on me if I take that away from the institution.

All sarcasm aside (for now), the majority of what I know about countries in Asia comes from my Geography and World Cultures class, which I took way back in freshman year. But a class that intends to cover the culture of every continent has a tendency to brush over everything, simply because there is too much. We get the bare bones of the culture, a few oddly specific factoids about a particular country, and then it’s on to the next continent.

There’s nothing in essence wrong with that – AP Euro only looks at one continent and it is still difficult to swallow the amount of information I receive from that class on a daily basis. The world cultures class is a trailer for the actual history, and it essentially piques people’s interest with a general synopsis.

But, excluding Europe and the US, there is no follow-up class for the majority of the continents, so we’re left to rely on those “trailers” to complete our understanding. And no matter how much of the “plot” the trailers spoil, there is no replacing a more in-depth course.

What’s almost worse, though, is that we prioritize a continent we view as somewhat of a parallel to our own. Growing up, something always felt less foreign about Europe than everywhere else, even though my family knew just as little about it. And in truth, be it their colonization of this country or our shared western culture, we have an undeniable connection with some of the countries within Europe.

But, while we emphasize this connection with Europe through an addition course, we make little effort with others, like Asia, which perpetuates misconceptions of our differences. I can’t tell you for sure what we share in culture, or how our histories intertwine, other than some generalized facts. These generalizations lead to exaggerated stereotypes that prevent students from relating to those from different backgrounds; with a school as diverse as our own, we should foster this connection, rather than inhibiting it.

The fault, of course, does not lie with our school, or even entirely with our district. Taking a look at the schools around the area, such as Rocklin, the same types of courses are offered, and the same ones are notably absent from the line-up. While everyone may offer an overall world history course, no school takes that definitive step.

Though some students, myself included, might seek out this knowledge in a college course or from some other means, others will leave the school just as ignorant as when they entered. We aren’t aiming to be a presidential debate, putting up the show of informing people, but without putting in that extra effort that is all we’ll ever amount to.

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