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  • Writer's pictureHistory Retold Project

Grey Areas

At my school, and at others I have been to in the past, I think the curriculums don't often reach far beyond what is "relevant" to the people learning. I lived in Holland for over half my life and the curriculum, the history we were told, strongly reflected our geography. I didn't hear much about other continents, and if I did, it was how their inventors or discoverers impacted us. As a white person, I don't feel misrepresented when I learn about bad white people and for the longest time I never realized why that was. I never realized why my young mind could sort the good people and the bad people into two separate groups and I still only thought of some groups as one thing. We learned about how many cultures had many different traditions, but we never learned how to respect them. I think this sentiment is still relevant at my current school as well. When I first moved back to America, I went to a public school with standard Texas courses. Texas History, American History, Geography. My 6th grade teacher made us learn the geography of the entire world, every single country, but we barely learned anything about the countries themselves. We learned about a few empires and our teacher called it a day. Sentiments like these are dangerous. We learn about countries on the other side of the world, how they are different from us, but we never learn that different doesn't mean worse. When you don't have any knowledge about a group of people, it creates room for stereotypes and misinformation. Our teacher at my old school also told me that the cause of the Civil War was that the North and South disagreed on "states' rights." I remember those words exactly because I remember believing them. I was always taught to have empathy, understanding, for everybody, but also looking back, I realize I was told to understand the side of slave owners. I was told to sympathize with the Confederacy. I didn't realize until I came to my new school that it was really just slave owners vs. not slave owners, so it shocks me that my teacher portrayed it as such a grey area.

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