Importance of World Cultures, American Studies being forgotten


Photo by Ellie Melvin

Current American Studies students takes notes during a lecture. The class offers a unique approach to learning, which some believe is being thrown away in the school’s push for more APs.

We are used to hearing about local (and even national) controversies surrounding certain high school classes; AP US History curriculum, for instance, is frequently challenged by legislators for how it delves into the more complex and controversial aspects of history. However, the recent elimination of the American Studies and World Cultures classes has the potential to negatively impact student historical learning and civic education in a major way.

World Cultures is a compelling class because of how it brings deep historical and cultural learning to a class level used to more superficial accounts of dates and timelines. It proves that the school’s AP and Honors classes were not the only way for students to delve into the history of their nations, and adapted the techniques of those higher-level classes into an innovative program that combined art and literature with traditional social studies curriculum. And while media literacy programs are blossoming, more traditional social studies classes have a key role to play as well.

In both World Cultures and American Studies, students are able to place literary, artistic, and cultural events in the context of their location and era. That skill, in particular, is one of the most important because in a time where information is everywhere, students need to be able to see beyond the literal text and images when reading or watching media in our hyper-connected and information-saturated world.

When we eliminate classes, we eliminate opportunities for students to fall in love with a subject, and we deprive them of the skills necessary to digest the modern worlds vast quantities of information. The cancellations of these two classes plays into a worrying national trend– according to the Atlantic, both civic education and young people’s political educations have been on a sharp decline. Knowing how to place cultural artifacts into context is more important than ever, and by eliminating World Cultures and American Studies, LZHS is eliminating one opportunity for lower class levels of the opportunity to learn those skills as deeply as before.