Teaching World History to Tenth Graders: Toward a Recovery Plan for the Eurocentrically-Educated Modern World History Teacher

By Foreman, Bill | Social Studies Review, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Teaching World History to Tenth Graders: Toward a Recovery Plan for the Eurocentrically-Educated Modern World History Teacher


Foreman, Bill, Social Studies Review


In a practical sense, recent developments in world history scholarship have enormous, positive implications for the California's 10th grade course in the subject. Seeing the last five hundred years from, in me words of Braudel's tide, "the perspective of the world," allows a teacher, at last, I would argue, to frame a course coherently, and teach it inclusively. Coherence, in history, provides real meaning, so our goal as teachers must be to reveal it. Other structural models for a course, be they national, civilizational, or multicultural, or a history of events, consist of parts rather than a whole, global history. That is to say, they are incomplete, and therefore ultimately incoherent. Taking the entire world as the fundamental unit of analysis, on the other hand, we can provide a course in which no region, and therefore student, is left out by design.

In the first few years of my career, I would generally begin a course with either a "why history?" statement or an overview of forthcoming units in the form of a list. Both serve a purpose, but neither create coherence. Now, I start my course with a simple, broad overview of the substance of our course's substance. Concretely, I present my students with the following sentence: "Between 1500 and today, human interactions in the world have become more intense and more unequal." I wrote that sentence a few years ago as a teaching tool. The statement, short and clear, is also obviously incomplete. As the course progresses, I refer back to the statement, and it deepens in meaning as we add, as a class, detail. I have not thrown out the babies of all my old curriculum units with the bathwater of a civUizational model of world history. Rather, I've revised and, more to the point, refrained them. The topics of my course remain the same, aligned to standards, but I emphasize developments that most clearly reflect the material of the course at the broadest level of generalization. The task is not to repeat, but to deepen.

The nineteenth century illustrates this perfectly. State standards instruct us to focus on the Industrial Revolution and Imperialism, which is well and good. When I began teaching, I approached the two topics more or less as separate matters, and my units on the material, while effective at some level, were such not because of any particular conceptual coherence, but because I would use a variety of modalities to communicate content. This is fine as far as it goes, but varying the modality of learning does not by itself create the coherence that students , or anyone else , needs to structure meaning in history. I now frame the nineteenth century in terms of intensification and inequality. We still examine all the different inventions of the time, but I emphasize how things like the power loom and railroad allowed for the speed and number of human interactions to increase in the period. Students examine imperialism in relational terms, specifically as die creation of inequality on a global scale. The two topics are not separate but rather aspects of the same process. The ability to intensify production and distribution of goods by a few, rather than all human societies allowed for the division of the world into unequal spheres, developed and developing, the split between which still characterizes our world today.

The change goes down, in the most significant way, to my choice of words as a teacher. I no longer used the word "oppressed" in my teaching. Now, I use the word, "unequal." Though I'm now aware of this, the change in vocabulary was not conscious, but rather it flowed logically and more or less inevitably from the understandings I garnered from the new world history. "Oppressed," critically, is a passive construction, and as such renders the noun so-modified a recipient of action rather than an actor. My students, who literally all personally face real oppression, in varying forms, do not need to be told that people like them are passive, and just as surely are poorly served by a course that, by merely representing a variety of peoples, masks the fundamental inequality of the modem world. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Teaching World History to Tenth Graders: Toward a Recovery Plan for the Eurocentrically-Educated Modern World History Teacher
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.