Historical Memory as a Barrier to Education Equity

By: Leah Swinson '15

Advising Faculty: Leo Garofalo

There are many barriers that prevent students from equally accessing public education, including a student's geographic location, socioeconomic status, and of course, the public and educational policies that influence the structure and budgets of public school systems. While each of these (and other) factors can contribute to a student's success in public school, Swinson also argues that a community's historical memory plays an equally important role. Historical memory consists of the ways in which a community remembers its own history and teaches it to each community member. The ways in which students learn history can profoundly impact their understanding of themselves and their surroundings, as well as influence the decisions they make in the present and future. If history is taught from a singular or alienating perspective, it can influence and perpetuate the inequalities already present in the public school system. As a junior studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, Swinson continued to research this idea in an independent study that focused on the historicization of Salvador Allende's presidency and the following dictatorship in public schools and by the Museum of Memory in Santiago, and its effects on current student movements and educational policy. She plans to further expand on this idea in a senior honors thesis.

Related Fields: Holleran Center, Hispanic Studies, History