Localizing Guam education

Proposed curriculum change seeks to introduce students to their historical roots

“Organic Act?” Only five of 100 students surveyed at the University of Guam had heard of it. The remaining 95 gave a perplexed look. The 95 percent cluelessness reveals an astounding gap in local civic knowledge created by Guam’s largely Americanized education system. The local academe has thus deemed it time to give the new generation a reorientation of their identity and get them acquainted with the fundamentals of the very society in which they live.

Plans are in motion to change the social studies curriculum on island to focus more on Guam and the Pacific-Asia region than the United States.

The Guam Department of Education and the University of Guam plan a pilot version of the program in several elementary schools on island. The plan is that 2nd and 3rd grade students will be learning about Guam and the rest of the region for Social Studies class while 4th graders will learn about Guam history.

“Curriculum should start from what you know to what you don’t know. When you come from a small society like Guam, people tend to devalue who we are and devalue our immediate experience as if it wasn’t really important but those are the building blocks in which we can learn about the rest of the world,” says Dr. Robert Underwood, president of the University of Guam. “In order for you to be a secure human being and understand society, you first have to understand your own society.”