Despite Central Asia’s long history and enduring importance to world politics, today’s students are barely learning about this region. When I recently thumbed through a middle school-level World History textbook issued by a major publisher, I found only 18 pages out of 800+ that touched on Central Asia. By that estimate, Western students today spent no more than 0.02% of their time reading about one of the oldest and most important regions of the world!
As a former teacher, my point here is not to criticize textbooks or educators. History is a vast subject, and there is no way to cover it all in a year. Even if it could be done, the breakneck pace would only allow a surface-level investigation of most places and events. And there is no single (or easy) way to organize such a large amount of information. Thus, priority must be given to certain civilizations, cultures, or phases of societal development. Nevertheless, Central Asia seems to have fallen between the chapters.
Here are five reasons why Western students should spend a little more time learning about this important region: