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History department emphasizes current events

Katie Small Contributing Illustrator

On any given schoolday, it is almost certain that you will encounter clusters of 11th grade students outside their AP World History classroom reviewing current events before the period begins. However, this routine doesn’t belong solely to the junior class, as all students at Marlborough are expected to stay updated on global and national current events, sometimes even for credit, in their history classes. 

While reviewing current events several times a week has been a part of Marlborough’s curriculum for years, that isn’t the case at all schools across the country. Recently, Director of Studies and History and Social Sciences Instructor Jonathon Allen and History and Social Sciences Department Head Mabel Wong presented to the International Coalition of Girls’ Schools in Nashville, Tennessee, the importance of teaching current events. While they received many positive reactions to their presentation, other educators conveyed that two main barriers to teaching about current events were the difficulty of having politically charged discussions and an opposition to taking time away from the curriculum and preparing for AP exams.

“The argument that I made in our presentation was that it’s not only possible to carve out time for current event, but that it’s necessary,” Allen said. “We may not always be able to connect a current event with the material we’re studying at the time, but the act of reviewing multiple events throughout the world on a weekly basis builds these important habits [of being informed].”

The History Department instills the habit of being informed in students, with appropriate current events content for each grade level. For example, when teaching a specific current event, presentations will be adapted for each class to tailor the information to the cognitive development and critical thinking skills of the students. Furthermore, the History Department makes an effort to teach and discuss all current events, not just news relating to politics.

“We have identified current events as one of our historical thinking skills that as a department we are committed to and working on,” Wong said. “This means that in the same way in which we teach historical thinking skills, we also teach current events skills.”

As students move through Marlborough’s history classes, they are encouraged to develop a greater interest in current events. Last year, Abby ‘24 and Dalton ‘24 began recording their current events podcast: “Currently.” The podcast aims to help prepare students for current events discussions or quizzes in their history classes. 

“[Abby and Dalton] are so charismatic and relay the news and information I need in a fun and spirited way,” Lana ‘24 said. “I love the energy on the podcast and the way that they make the news concise while still being informative.”

Allen believes that the current events component of history classes prepares students to be educated students in the future.

“It’s such an important and obvious way to make connections between the past and the present — and when a teacher can do that effectively, I’ve found that it’s so exciting for the students,” Allen said. 

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