Letter: Students need a global balance

Re: Adam Joseph’s May 7 column “The Asia unbalance in Michigan high schools”: Joseph misunderstood the entire focus of the International Academy’s curriculum.

Joseph wrote that while Asian countries were not completely missing from our curriculum, they are taught in a “casual learning” manner, which ignores meaningful political, social or economic topics. However, the International Academy history curriculum currently consists of a mandatory four years of history courses that have a truly global focus. Each one of our courses explores the depths of historical topics in a way that encourages our students to embrace the complexities and often the uncertainties of historical events.

At the academy, freshmen students spend nearly half of the year specifically studying units on China and India. Sophomore students explore modern American history, including the challenges of American foreign policy around the globe. Junior and senior students cover 20th century history in depth with a focus on Europe and Asia.

While our curriculum does cover Asian history in depth, it also explores the cultures and histories of the rest of the world. In order for our students to become the future leaders of this world, they will need to embrace and understand cultures that span the globe. Students need to have a “global balance” in their education.

Joseph is right to argue that history is not simply about the memorization of facts. The greatest historians are great debaters, critical thinkers, careful researchers, and discerning writers. Ultimately, they help us see the connections between our shared global past, our present and our potential future.

No matter how hard we may try at times to get our students to remember the specific facts of major world events, what ultimately matters to history teachers is that our students leave our classrooms with a better understanding of who we are as a global community and how past events helped get us to this place in time.

Jeff DeMoss,

history teacher

International Academy West