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Old 10-01-2009, 05:13 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
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How many years of American History does a high school student have to take in order to graduate, today? I'm 58. I think of all of the events that have happened in the US and the administrations that have inhabited the White House since I went to high school in the late 60s. I'm wondering if a reason students today may be American History deficient compared to students of 40 years ago or more is the schools are trying to cram a lot more American history into the same amount of class time. Less time (or no time) is spent on some historic events in order to achieve overall coverage.

But, I don't know if that's true. Did a high school student in the 1930s, for example, take the same amount of American History classes as a high school student gets today?
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Old 10-01-2009, 05:36 AM
 
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Technically in our state they require one year of "American History", usually that is taught in 10th grade. Most kids have had history incorporated in their social studies classes since 1st grade though so it isn't like that is the only time they have history.

Our twins are in 9th grade and they have "Government" for their social class this year. The focus is on government but much of that is American History too. Next year they won't spend as much time on the formation of our government in the historical context and deal more with the development of our nation.

Junior and senior year there are still social requirements but they take the classes as electives and can elect to take a higher level Am History class if they want. Most kids take World History or European History at this level though.
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Old 10-01-2009, 08:19 AM
 
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Specifics vary by state, but I agree that most kids do have history incorporated into their classes from very early on. In my high school I took history for four years, although some of those were optional. 9th grade: world history, 10th grade: American history, 11th grade: another world history, 12th grade, history of the Americas.

It's not just the amount of additional recent history that students are trying to learn, it's also that modern students also learn about history thought to be irrelevant in years past.

Last edited by uptown_urbanist; 10-01-2009 at 10:31 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 10-01-2009, 10:24 PM
 
Location: Fort Smith, Arkansas
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In Arkansas, some form of social studies (Civics, World/American/Arkansas history is required through 11th grade. Many students who plan on attending college will take a senior level class too (Euro history, etc)

Uptown is correct about the difference in what is being taught. It wasn't that long ago when the minorities and women were left out of the text books. We spend a lot more time on things like that now.
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Old 10-01-2009, 11:26 PM
 
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Social studies is the sacrificial lamb. Of the 4 main subjects I had in high school, only 3 years of social studies was required whereas 4 years of English, math, and science were required.
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Old 10-02-2009, 04:37 AM
 
Location: On the Chesapeake
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In my system 8th graders take US History Colonial to Civil War then 9th graders take Reconstruction to Present. What has changed is the focus. We did the "Great Man and Important Events" history whereas today the curriculum is "This is how the Great Man and the Events ruined my life and turned me bad" history.

An example is WW II: the section on the Japanese internment on the West Coast is the longest section in the WW II unit and is almost as long as the rest of the chapter covering the entire war.
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Old 10-02-2009, 05:33 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyers29 View Post
Social studies is the sacrificial lamb. Of the 4 main subjects I had in high school, only 3 years of social studies was required whereas 4 years of English, math, and science were required.
In MN English and Social Studies are required for 4 years, math and science for 3 years. Most college bound students take math and science for 4 years though.
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Old 10-02-2009, 07:09 AM
 
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Our High School requires four years of all the core subjects including history, only one, AP European History or World History in eleventh grade, is not US history focused. They also go over and over the same stuff in all the grades leading up to High School but less formally. One year is state history and in the middle school they will have a smattering of the other continents. My daughter taught Social Studies here in the middle school and in one year they covered Immigration to the US, the mid-east and Ancient Greece and Egypt. The subjects taught are tied heavily to the state testing standards for each grade and don't always make sense.
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Old 10-02-2009, 09:41 AM
 
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My high school only had 1 year of American history my junior year. This would have been late 80's/early 90's. I had political science my freshmen year and world culture during my sophmore. We had to have 4 years of social sciences so my senior year was split between geography and something else I can't remember.

We didn't get too far in American history. Maybe to the civil war. They not only try to cram too much stuff into one year, but cram stuff that matters little to a students understanding of history. Either they are trying to keep students interested or for some reason believe that we need to know every signal moment in time so that I know exactly why my blue jeans are blue. (which I do because of history class in high school!) I don't need to hear butterfly effects like that unless they somehow relate to the greater events of the past.

I think they would be better off teaching it for 2 or three years. Instead of world culture, maybe explain how our history has affected that culture etc. I think pilitical science is important as well.

Then there is the whole issue of where they get their information to cram in the books that we used. I learned more from one semester in college than 12 years of schooling. And I even learned that a lot of the stuff I learned was BS. But I'll save my rant for elsewhere
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Old 10-02-2009, 03:07 PM
 
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When I was in 5th grade, in 1990, I had the same history book that my dad used when he was in fifth grade, In the 60's. It was so outdated.

But it sounds like you are saying that since more history has transpired since you a kid, then the amount of time spent on learning history should have increased.

This is not necessarily true, because we have become more effective at cramming greater amounts of information into less time. For example, history teachers today might be more prone to use video and documentaries to teach history.

Grade-school to high-school history is usually nationalistic, anyway, pointing more at the good aspects of American history, and spending less attention on the negative aspects. A high school student would be better served to learn critical thinking about information in text-books, and to do research and learning outside of most school systems' curriculum.
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