History is a big part of Fairfax County Public School curricula, starting as early as third grade and continuing through graduation. However, most history classes are focused very heavily on European and American history.

The high point of fourth and fifth grade for me was participating in Colonial and Medieval Day in the springtime, which was a cumulative celebration of all the history we’d learned. We then spent the bulk of middle school history learning about European conflict like World Wars I and II or American history like the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Even government classes exclusively talk about the way American government works. Only sporadically do we learn about other countries’ history (excluding Europe), such as in third grade when we learned about the Seven Wonders of the World, in ninth grade World History and then in the IB history classes. We get a chance to focus on South America in IB History of the Americas and an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict in IB Topics.

However, the Class of 2016 will be the last to go through this particular IB curriculum for the forseeable future. This curriculum, which focuses on enriching history of other parts of the world, currently covers these concepts and events in-depth.

Next year, however, the history department is making the switch to a deeper focus on the World Wars and the Cold War, particularly in regards to the United States’ relations with Japan. While this sounds interesting, we’ve spent more than enough time on these wars.

The first day of Topics, one of the teachers split their students into groups—one that knew nothing about the Arab-Israeli conflict, one that knew some, and one that knew a lot. Very few students knew the root causes of the conflict and how it is manifesting today. The Arab-Israeli conflict is tied into both historical and current events, which makes it important for every student to understand.

We’ve been drilled on the significant events of the World Wars and the Cold War for a long while. Having the opportunity to research something outside of this sphere that is more relevant to current events is refreshing, and it’d be a shame to see it go.

In order to comprehend the events happening around the world, students need a thorough understanding of the causes of the conflict—which is provided in IB Topics. Otherwise, some students might not ever be exposed to or truly understand the many complex issues that still affect the world today.