History department offers new U.S. history options

Photo courtesy of Fabien Barral, via Unsplash

By Kiara Amaya

The social studies department is offering three new history courses for upcoming juniors. The new “lens” focused courses are reviving the traditional learning experience by expanding the way that students learn and view history. These will include “Through the Lens of Women,” “The Immigrant Experience,” and “The History of Los Angeles.”

For the past several years, there have been discussions within the social studies department for ways in which they could broaden student knowledge while celebrating the cultural and social contributions of community members such as women and immigrants within the story of America. Additionally, the department seeks to provide students with the opportunity to take U.S. history courses that are focused around specific topics they may find interesting. 

“Students should join these classes if they want to get excited about history. History is so much more than the textbook and I hope I get a chance to help them find that out!” history teacher Lara Wilig said. 

All of the offered courses fulfill the U.S. history requirement and can be taken for GGC or honors credit. 

“Through the lens of Women ” will venture through what has and has not changed for American women throughout American history. The course offers a historical lens focusing on the ideas and experiences of women in the United States from the late 1800s through the end of the twentieth century. The goal will be to understand not just what women have done but also how many fundamental moments and issues in US history have hinged on certain notions of gender. Studying women’s history also means being aware of the way women have been divided by class, race, ethnicity, and more. Although the voices of white, middle and upper class women tend to predominate, the experiences of less privileged women and women of color have also had significant effects on shaping the American past. 

“I think this course stands out because students often ask, ‘What were women doing at this time?’ If you look at the textbook, it usually narrows it down to women and the household. Women were breaking the mold long before WWII for a variety of reasons. I’m hoping we get to flesh out the story of more than white, middle class women. I want the diversity of this country to have a voice in the class,” Willig said. 

“The Immigrant Experience” will investigate the history of the United States from the lens of immigrants. The course will explore the hardships and accomplishments of people who journeyed to the United States while taking into consideration exclusion and inclusion, patterns of settlement, questions of race, gender, and ethnicity, modern debates over immigration and the American dream. 

“This course stands out because all students have a connection to this topic. At some point in time, all of our ancestors had an immigration experience to the United States. Whether it was voluntary immigration or forced immigration, we can all connect our personal stories to the stories of past immigrants. I emphasize the personal stories because much of the class will be focused on the voices of past immigrants. We will learn about U.S history from the voices of those that actually lived it,” history teacher Tyler Lee said. 

“The History of Los Angeles” will still cover all of the standards that are traditionally covered in a traditional U.S. history class, but will use the city of Los Angeles as a vehicle to learn about our national history. and the rise of the labor movement. The class will learn about topics such as the rise of the car culture that connected the city, the bombing of the LA Times building to understand the impact of industrialization, etc. 

“I jumped at the chance to create a unique course that pushes the boundaries of what a traditional American History class looks like. I like a challenge, and this course allows me to be creative in a new and fun way that ties into my passions for American History and the city that I call home.  I’m a native Angeleno and love this city. My hope is to help students connect to their hometown in a way they haven’t experienced before. Additionally, the goal is to understand why the city is the way that it is by answering the question: How has our past shaped our present?” history teacher Kelly Gomez said.

Students should take the amazing opportunity to learn about U.S history through new lenses with teachers who are excited to expand their knowledge and perspectives. Especially since having such outside the box classes are quite rare.