History Curriculum Revised in FCPS

History+Curriculum+Revised+in+FCPS

Rewan Farag 

 2/24/21

   

Recently, FCPS decided to revise and edit its history curriculum. They want to show all of the different points of view and make it more diverse so that more people can relate. Many school board members met to collaborate and decided what changes were going to be made. Ms. Julie Kouril, a history teacher from Glasgow that was involved in the change, has been interviewed to explain what the process was like for her and the thoughts that she has on the change.   

When asked how this process was like for her, she said, “I got involved in the Social Studies Office in June of 2020. The Social Studies Office was asking 6th-grade teachers if they would like to do some work for the county curriculum office over the summer revising curriculum standards.” Following that conversation, she talked about the major goals of this change. “The major goals were to create a more inclusive curriculum, so the way that the curriculum is written right now, it’s a lot about white Europeans being at the center of American History. It’s a lot about men being at the center of history, and it’s a lot about people in power, presidents, generals…And what’s really missing is stories of other ethnicities and races, stories about women, stories about regular people.” She also mentioned that FCPS wants this process to take effect in all history classes. 

When asked to elaborate on her role in this process, she said, “ I worked with one other 6th grade teacher, and we helped to rewrite the standards, so what that means is like what kind of things needed to know at the end of each unit, what students would be tested on, that kind of stuff… Jen (Brown), who was basically my boss on this project, asked me and this other teacher, Jessica Albright, if we wanted to go one step further and keep going and create digital resources for 6th graders to use throughout the school year. So, instead of writing what students should know, we were going to help write lesson plans, we were going to put together google docs, google forms, google slides, like stuff that teachers can actually use in the virtual environment to help teach these new standards. So, part 1 was the standards, part 2 is the stuff teachers could actually use. So, we both agreed to keep going with that, and that’s still ongoing, we’re not done with that yet.”

 As a  follow-up to that conversation, she said, “It’s exciting work because I think it’s going to make US History relevant for a lot more types of people. A lot more people will see themselves in the stories.” While this project was already planned a few months before it took place, according to Ms. Kouril, the social justice movements that happened around May such as Black Lives Matter made it a lot more important for them to carry out this process and include stories from people who have been underrepresented. Another goal of this project was also to remove any bias and give the full story/truth. “ Virginia was a Confederate state, it left the Union, it fought for the Confederacy. We’re trying to remove old-fashioned vestiges kind of excusing Virginians for owning slaves and supporting the system of slavery. We want to be honest about that history rather than trying to cover it up.” When talking about another example about the European explorers, she said, “The way that these current standards are written very much make it sound like these Europeans coming here and staking their claim on land in North America was a good thing, and that they were heroes who should be celebrated, but what’s not in the standards is the genocide, the spread of disease, the violence, and the slavery that these Europeans brought to North America, that’s just not in there. That’s what we mean by expanding the story.” As a closing remark, Ms. Kouril said, “It’s not a change in history, it’s telling more stories and expanding whose story gets told.” 

Here are some more examples of the major changes:

It seems like now that this change is in effect, more people will be able to relate and feel included in US History. The Social Studies team hopes to remove all bias and dishonesty from the system. They want to provide a learning curriculum that shows and expands on all sides of the story. What are your thoughts on this new change?