A variety of key events in American history frequently get overlooked in high school history courses. Whether that’s because they’re commonly overlooked by Americans (or the history professors who educated high school history teachers), or that they don’t show up on crucial tests like the AP US History Exam is hard to say.
Of course, it’s impossible for any teacher to cover all the major events in the history of any country, even one as young as the United States, nor should every event be given equal weight, but it seems like many American high school students can’t even place certain historical events on a timeline, let alone understand their significance in the development of this nation.
While no American history class worth its salt could possibly skip over the Revolutionary War, it seems like a key event leading up to Revolutionary War is frequently overlooked: the French and Indian War. The results of that war greatly shaped the development of this country and if things had gone differently, the United States as we know it today would be almost completely unrecognizable.
Credit: ShmoopSimilarly, World War I and WWII could not possibly be missed by any US History teacher, but the Korean War frequently is. There’s a reason it is called “The Forgotten War,” but to completely ignore it is a real disservice to the thousands of people who lost their lives there. North Korea is a legitimate threat to the safety of millions of Americans and our allies, and while it’s easy to simply write off Kim Jong Il as a crazy loose cannon, understanding the conflicts between the US and North Korea (not to mention North Korea and South Korea) can help students make sense of the tensions that still exist in that region today.
While on the subject of historical events that have a strong connection to the present, The Great
Depression has likely never been more relevant than it is now. The divide between the haves and have nots is incredibly is large, and with unemployment at record highs and stories of college graduates searching for work for months only to accept a minimum wage job abound. While it’s unlikely that President Obama is going to present the nation with a new New Deal, it’s possible that the secret to restoring our present economy lies in the past. The next great economic mind may be sitting in a high school history class right now, just waiting to be inspired.
Who knows if studying history prevents us from repeating it, but it cannot be denied that understanding historical events can help anyone put events of the present day into perspective. Understanding how the United States has evolved is crucial to understanding how it operates today and by skipping over certain historical events, students are missing out on pieces of information like why Americans speak English and why we have the allies and enemies that we do.