How Avon History Teachers Work With State Curriculum

A heated debate has encompassed the nation regarding the curriculum being taught in the classrooms within our schools, from discussions about our past sins to modern topics regarding recent movements and protests. The current curriculum in Indiana has not been changed since last year, but do Avon High School teachers find the current education plan up to par?

Daniel Derda, a VU American History teacher, understands there may be some information that could be replaced with more relevant information for our times.

“Even though there are some things that are just not covered at all, there are other less important things that we cover,” said Derda.

Although the Indiana curriculum has not changed from last year, teachers actively change it to fit current situations and relate it to broader themes within our history.

“Mr. Ridgway and I work through and update certain things every year and try to keep our curriculum in a good place.” said Derda.

The curriculum Derda teaches is more broad than other history subjects. Derda says time is his biggest obstacle to overcome when planning out his lessons.

“The biggest struggle is consistently the amount of material I want to cover versus the amount of time to actually cover it,” said Derda.

Matthew Noble is a social studies teacher who teaches both AP European History and Geography and History of the World. Noble proposes more history electives based around more niche movements and how they fit into the grand scheme. He believes such electives are important for our school, giving students more choice in their education, and says it could be a better way to cover important movements throughout history in more depth.

“Right now, most of the electives in the social studies department are AP courses. I think those are important to have in our school,” said Noble. “I also know that students having the choice to take some elective courses in the social studies could be really amazing.”

Noble said he has had teachers reach out and propose adding electives based around subjects like Western Civilization, the Civil War and World War Two, all of which are topics taught in regular curriculum but in a condensed form.

“I know that I have had a couple teachers reach out about electives like a semester on the Civil War, Western Civ., and WWII,” said Noble. ”I think those classes would be a lot of fun and I think they would fill up really fast!”

Noble supported the current curriculum, expressing his support for the course teams and their work each year to update it with modern events while also navigating state standards.

“I am really proud of the work that many of our course teams are doing to revamp their curriculum and make it more relevant,” said Noble. 

Abigail Neal is also part of the history team, teaching both AP and regular government.

Neal maintains that the number one issue with her curriculum is the lack of time. When asked what she would add if she had total control over the course, Neal made it clear that lack of time was the biggest challenge and one issue she wishes she could have more control over.

 “Time! Especially for grade-level government! We always seem to run out of time to cover our last unit, Political Participation. We touch on it through the course, but I think having a specific unit to discuss the ways a person can become politically & civically involved is important. “ said Neal.

Neal was satisfied overall with the curriculum and provided some insight into the process that goes into crafting the courses she teaches.  

“Mr. Hultman and I have worked to make sure that what we were teaching in class is relevant. Each semester we’ve also reflected and made adjustments based on the data and feedback from our students. Everything we cover in Gov is, or should be, relevant to young adults about to leave high school,” said Neal.

According to Neal, no information within the AP Government curriculum is irrelevant, but some topics could deserve more attention than they receive as well as have a stronger presence on the exams. 

“I think there are some topics that could have a greater weight on the AP exam or a greater emphasis throughout the course, but overall I think the balance of relevant skills and relevant content is manageable and meaningful,” said Neal.

Neal helps build the real world skills of her students with her goal being that they leave her class a more educated citizen.

 “I hope that by the end of the semester or the end of the year, students’ critical thinking, problem solving, and source analysis skills are able to help them better understand our government, political system, and the world around us,” said Neal.

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