Every history class should teach current events


Samantha Matays , Staff Writer

When I first experienced a current events assignment in my tenth grade United States History class, I was encouraged to break down the bubble I was living in and delve into worldwide events. While many history teachers incorporate current events into their curriculum, some tenth grade classes, and even more ninth grade classes, do not. Every ninth and tenth grade history classes should implement current events as it offers students an opportunity to engage with the world around them.

While in middle school, I lacked awareness of current events because I didn’t discuss it in school or with friends. Many of these events did not directly affect me, so I didn’t feel pressure to learn about them on my own initiative. Current events assignments opened up to a whole new world that motivated me to keep learning about these events. Outside of class, I decided to take the step that was long overdue and turn my ignorance of the world around me into awareness. Before I knew it, I began checking news sources regularly and keeping up with present issues.

Current events assignments task a student to find a recent news article that relates to what they are studying in class, summarize it, pose questions to their peers, then lead a group discussion in class.

Even for the ninth and tenth graders who do follow the news, it is still possible to miss an important article. Current events would create the opportunity for those students to be informed on the issue they missed.

Along with increasing students’ awareness about the world outside their purview, these assignments train students in thoughtful discussion. Even if the discussion is only five minutes long and the student does not formally present in front of the whole class, they can hear varying viewpoints from others and learn to respond respectfully to claims they disagree with. On top of hearing their peers’ opinions, current events expose students to news sources that they may not have looked at on their own.

Another reason to implement a current events assignment is its connection to course themes. Although some courses have more apparent connections to the present than others, it is important for students to understand how history is linked to the present. If they can connect their knowledge of the past to current issues, it will encourage them to see the significance of what they are learning about in class.

Since different grades require different complexities of material, teachers could adjust the assignment in terms of its difficulty. For instance, they could assign ninth graders to write a short paragraph, implement current events once a month instead of once a week, and pair students with a peer to present.