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What Do You Learn In World History And When?

World History is part of the wider Social Studies curriculum in most US schools. But when do you actually study World History in the US schooling system?

What Do You Learn In World History And When?

We found out the answer to this, as well as other things such as why World History is taught and what you can learn in World History.

One thing to bear in mind is that the US schooling system is generally very decentralized.

This means that one school in one state may choose to teach World History at a different time, or may choose to teach you completely different things about World History.

Also consider that school curriculums can change almost every year as well.

Keep reading to learn more about World History in the US Schooling System, its values, and when it appears in the curriculum. Just keep reading this article to learn more.

What Is World History?

In terms of schooling, ‘World History is a subject you learn in the US school programme. It is a type of history that looks at history all over the world, as well as in America.

In other words, it is a field of historical study that examines history from the global perspective, not just the American perspective. While you may have been previously taught American history, World History covers all nations’ history from a global perspective.

Outside of the US, where American history is the norm, most modern schools teach World History from the get-go.

It’s considered by many as the best way to view history,  as a focus on one regional history can exclude other histories by nature.

What Do You Learn About In World History?

What Do You Learn About In World History?

Put simply, World History teaches you the history of the world. You could learn anything from the European Middle Ages, to the Russian Revolution, to the establishment of the United Nations.

On the other hand, some schools may focus on purely American or at least Western history.

Looking at history from a global perspective allows us to see how countries interact with each other, how different countries are affected by different cultural periods and wars, and what we can learn from history going forward – both politically, socially, and economically. 

Perhaps most commonly, nearly all schools in the US will cover the First and Second World Wars at some point, including the Rise of Fascism and the Holocaust.

But, due to the nature of these topics, they probably won’t be taught until maybe Grade 7 when students can deal with these topics in a mature and nuanced way.

Comparatively, something like Ancient Greece or Egypt might be taught a lot earlier as it can be more fun for younger students than learning about topics like war.

When Is World History Taught?

When Is World History Taught?

If you aren’t American, you may be wondering how Americans are taught about WOrld History and when, well, this isn’t a cut and dry answer.

A simple answer is that in the US the government requires most schools to at least teach some kind of history.

What is common in the US is to split the study of history into three classes that most school kids will come across at some point: US history, World History, and Civics.

The American schooling system is not the same in every school, different states will federally rule on their school while others will rule differently.

Even within a state there can be large discrepancies from one school’s curriculum to another. Even when you go to school can have a huge effect on what history you are taught.

Some schools may teach World History as early as Grade 1, while other schools may teach World History as late as  Grade 8 or 9.

As a rule of thumb Social Studies, which includes other studies like Geography, are generally taught from Grade 7 through to Grade 12.

If you are looking for a general syllabus of what might be taught in US schools, its widely up for debate, but you will most likely encounter Ancient Civilizations and Early Man topics, Ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt, etc, around Grade 6 or 7, while the more dark and complex historical topics such as Russia, and Nazi Germany will be saved for Grade 8 or 9 when students can understand these complex topics more.

Something like Civics, which is generally about how governments and democracy works as well as the various voting systems in the world, is taught a little later around Grade 10- 12 as this is a little more complex and requires a more mature mind too.

Final Thoughts

Understanding how history is taught in the US can be a little hard, considering how large the US is and how much each school in one state could variably teach history.

The US government generally requires World History, US History, and Civics to be taught to students during middle and high school, but beyond this there isn’t a definite answer to when or what.

CBS recently looked at how African American History had been taught in schools around the country, this study shows the variation of how one historical topic is taught in US schools.

Their microcosmic findings surmise the discrepancy of historical education in the US: ‘There are no national social studies standards to mandate what topics or historical figures students must learn about […] CBS News found that seven states do not directly mention slavery in their state standards and eight states do not mention the civil rights movement.

Only two states mention white supremacy, while 16 states list states’ rights as a cause of the Civil War.’

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Americans Lack International Knowledge?

Many non-US citizens may think that Americans generally have a lackluster understanding of world history and geography.

In the US most international studies are grouped under ‘Social Studies’ whereas in European schools they are taught as singular subjects.

Consider that America is a huge country too, many Americans have never left their state, let alone their country.

Only around ⅓ of Americans actually have an active passport, while global tourism is quite common outside the US.

Simon Lewis

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