Staff Editorial: Students would benefit from current events classes

The world around us constantly changes and shifts, creating the environment that our generation will inherit in a number of years. Unfortunately, many students at BSM are completely unaware of the workings of our world, and the school needs to provide an opportunity for students to learn about our current society.

When Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky spoke at our Thanksgiving liturgy, he asked the school to pray for the ending of the violence in Israel. Many students had no understanding of what was going on in that region, even though this affects people not only thousands of miles away, but next door at Beth El and synagogues around our state and country. This tension affects thousands of lives, international relations, and government spending, and will continue to for many decades. Yet BSM students don’t even know that it is happening.

The situation between Israelis and Palestinians is only one example of the ignorance of BSM’s students about the world around us today. The Arab Spring has continued with Syria and Egypt continuing to transition, North Korea launches test rockets, Europeans continue to work around their economic crisis; BSM students go to class oblivious. Even in our own country, how many students can define the “fiscal cliff” or intelligibly discuss the new immigration laws? We learn so much about the past that we ignore the present––our reality. Because of this, our visions of the present are shaped by partisan media and quick snippets of information that don’t actually educate.

The adult generation attacks young people for not knowing enough about our world today. In reality, we don’t pay attention enough. The problem is that there’s no place for us to learn––to ask questions, to discuss, to really understand the news of our world. Many can’t simply comprehend world issues by picking up the New York Times or Star Tribune; we need help.

BSM does have some current events as part of the current curriculum. Government classes often start off by discussing new government policies and decisions. Some Spanish classes share articles from a specific country with the class, and in World Religions students find a current event associated with a certain religion. But these attempts don’t go far enough. Our students need full class time to dedicate to understanding our world with teachers that can help clarify, expand upon, and connect each isolated event around the globe to us.

Even though such a class may require more work for the teacher, as the class would need to be updated every year, that’s what teaching should be about. Our world is constantly changing, so should our schools and our learning. Students need to understand the importance, not only of 18th century America or Europe, but 21st century America and Europe. How can United States History classes cover the past forty years in one packet and claim to give students a fair representation of the entire history of America? Is yesterday not history anymore?

We are the next generation of doctors, businessmen and women, lawyers, and scientists. We are the next generation of leaders, activists, politicians, and missionaries. We are the next generation of this world––and we need to learn about it.