If you asked the majority of Americans what the Revolutionary War was, they would probably be able to tell you that it was the United States’ fight for independence against the British. Yet if you asked them what the Battle of Algiers was, they’d be at loss. The selective teaching of history within the U.S. has been a long-standing issue. It supports a divisive and Eurocentric narrative, which is why Berkeley High School history classes should teach a more global perspective.
In a highly divisive society where each country exists separate from the rest of the world, people see themselves first as citizens of their respective countries, before seeing themselves as citizens of this planet. The result of all this exploitation is a superiority complex where countries in the Global North brag about the quality of life being higher than many of the countries in the Global South.
If history was taught from a more global perspective, it would not only explain the current situation of countries in the Global South, but encourage empathy toward the people living with the impacts of colonialism. It gets rid of the disconnect between people from different nations and opens the door for mutual understanding. When people with different lived experiences come together, they each bring unique ideas and perspectives to the table.
Having only one year of ‘Global History’ that teaches events that most students already know about at BHS is not setting its students up to be able to interact with others outside of America. This is a shortcoming of BHS because 95% of the world is not American. Collaboration is the key to solving issues today such as climate change, and for that to happen people must be culturally aware.
Many argue that other countries’ history, while it may be relevant to other peoples’ lives, isn’t relevant to our lives. And this is partially true as what happens in other countries isn’t directly related to where we live. But, there are lots of indirect impacts. The war in Ukraine is impacting our grain supply and the Communist Revolution continues to impact U.S. geopolitical relations with Russia. The list goes on and on, which proves that in order to understand the current world and how we got here, an understanding of global history is important.
Learning global history is essential to understanding the world we live in as well as to bridge the gap between nations in order to solve real world issues.