Current Events Belong in the Social Studies Classroom
Credits: Jessie Moss
Throughout the K-9 experience, many students craft timelines of the Civil War or annotate the Gettysburg Address. But there is one thing that many lack in their social studies classes: current events education. By teaching current events, students can gain a greater understanding of the life-changing events taking place around them.
Walls’s rigorous academic environment would not only allow students to learn about what is happening across the globe but would also help students analyze and apply these events to context outside of school. Especially in such a turbulent period for our world, the ability to contribute to important discussions and form individual opinions on today’s pressing issues is an invaluable skill.
Despite the abundant benefits of current events education, it is still often excluded from curricula, much to the detriment of Walls students. Without any current events education, many Walls students lack knowledge on today’s important events. Aden Goldberg (‘26) noted that the extent to which the news had been incorporated into their educational experience was lacking. “I think there was something like ‘check this article out if you have time’ a few years ago,” they said. “That was about it.”
Other students share this sentiment. Mary Louisa Leopold (‘23) agreed that her understanding of current events was “almost entirely my own learning about it.” Leopold believes that “teaching about current events would definitely boost that understanding for [herself ] and a lot of students.”
AP World History and AP Human Geography teacher Carlton Ackerman emphasized the importance of current events education, saying that spending time on current events can inform students and also “help them find something they’re interested in in the news.”
When considering the benefits of current events education, it is important to understand why social studies classes are best suited to include this education in the curriculum. According to Mr. Ackerman, to fully understand everything that is happening today, it is crucial for us to understand why it is happening or what has influenced it, and that requires taking into account history. “We need to understand how the issues we face today are similar to the issues we’ve faced before,” he said, “and we can do that by looking at them through the lens of history.”
A prime example of this phenomenon can be found when looking at the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which brought the Soviet Union and the U.S. to the brink of nuclear war. Understanding the red lines the nations came so close to crossing sixty years ago provides key lessons for students to understand today’s conflict between Russia and Ukraine, where red lines are also dangerously close to being crossed with global repercussions. The connection between the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Russia-Ukraine war is just one example of historical events impacting countless events today.
Dedicating even five minutes at the beginning of every social studies class to discuss current events could boost an awareness of the watershed years we’re living through without detracting from the social studies class we’ve all grown accustomed to.
After putting this Rookery issue down, consider making a habit of reading the news outside Walls’s walls. As Mr.Ackermansays, “I don’t care if it’s the sports page or the econ page, but be reading some part of the newspaper and finding some topic to follow every day. And before you know it, you’re kind of hooked on it.”