A Not So Global History

A Reflection on Parker’s World History Curriculum


Every June, schedules come out and the entire school is temporarily enthralled by the mystery of who their teachers are or in trying to get their schedule changed to fulfill graduation requirements. Figuring out who your teacher is has even more importance your sophomore year when you’re placed into world history classes, which, depending on who your teacher is, are vastly different. Modern world history should be amongst the most important classes you take at Parker, teaching you events that shaped the world today, however, as the topics range from Carravagio’s trial to colonialism, students often come away with dramatically different understandings of what shaped the world. 

This isn’t to suggest that the classes themselves are bad. I enjoyed the classes I had, but there needs to be either a more standardized curriculum or more of a choice for students. The first, and most in line with other grades, would be to have either the whole year or the first semester be standardized and then have the second semester be more up to the individual teacher. The upside to this system would be that it would give students a similar baseline education on modern world history. And it’s not as though some of the classes don’t overlap and couldn’t be coalesced into a more standard curriculum. For example, colonialism and terrorism have many similarities with colonialism often being a catalyst for terrorism. 

Additionally, having a standard first semester and a different second semester can allow teachers to dive further into whatever topic they find compelling, building off the curriculum from the first semester. This is preferable to having electives both semesters because it allows for a common base of knowledge and building off first semester in second semester classes will make the classes feel more connected and more relevant as a year long course.

If there isn’t a redesign of the curriculum, there should be some element of choice for students about what classes they take. For example, I was assigned the two classes where I had the most understanding coming into the classes (colonialism and Cold War), however, if I could have had a say in which classes I took, I would have chosen classes where I felt like I knew little about the topics. This could be done in the same way electives are chosen: you register for the classes you want to take and get placed based on both what you want and what your schedule will allow. 

Sophomore year history needs a change. Parker teachers and curriculum coordinators do an overall incredible job cultivating a great curriculum. However, these curricula are not without blindspots and I encourage our community to consider what can be done to improve the curriculum and continue to move Parker increasingly towards its mission.