In a high school faculty lounge one AP history teacher asks another: are you mentioning Israel or any of that? He responds: No. She acknowledges his response, comments on how none of the students have brought it up and they go on to converse about a Netflix show with the larger group.

True story, I overheard this exchange. I think most of us can agree that what and how students are taught has little long term effect but I thought I’d ask since school lessons are such a debated topic in the media. Who should make these decisions? Government? Parents? Teachers? School administration?

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Bruce Lewis


Should that topic be taught in AP history? I don't know.

If so, how? According to the AP history test. My search just now only showed "AP US history", so if that's the AP history in question, it would be in relation to US involvement.

If not, why? Potential good reasons not to discuss the issue, if they are true: It's not related to the test they're preparing for. It's a divisive issue for the students. Divisive issues distract from the goals of the class.

OK so I've laid out the potential pros and cons for discussing Israel-Palestine in an AP class. If you figure out how truthful each pro and con is, then the answer to the original question should be obvious.

Thank you for your answer. I'm not so sure it is a divisive issue for the students, they seem to have little context or interest. If the purpose of AP courses is just to pass the AP test then there's already a lot of pointless materials and discussions, current events are not less relevant by comparison. Or maybe they are? I don't know who should make this decision (I've added this to the question).

Before I started teaching I would have thought that at the AP level students should, even briefly, learn to analyze conflicts and write about them in a nuanced ... (read more)

1Bruce Lewis
Do you still think students should learn to analyze conflicts and write about them in a nuanced and researched way? I think answering that question will lead you to the answer to your original question.
1Gesild Muka
Of course and if it were up to me students would do so by studying the War of the Ring by reading and analyzing Tolkien but I don't think that would be as useful for their academic and professional careers as studying current events. The original question is who should make such decisions?
1Bruce Lewis
My humble opinion is that teachers should make such decisions. From my own education I've come to think that the best education comes from enthusiastic teachers.