Educators - History K-12
Studying history gives an individual perspective on current events. But first the facts. If you don't know who, what, when, where, how, and why, there is no way that you can arrive at meaningful opinions.
It is true that the first rendition of events usually has the longest life. But we are learning to constantly re-appraise as new facts are discovered. It used to be said that history began when writing was invented. However, we now know that writing takes many forms. As the centuries have passed, we have not only learned how to read esoteric ancient languages but we have also learned how to "read" artifacts. Thus, the history books are in a constant state of knowledge acquisition.
By the way, I regard history and geography as inseparable. As we study the dynamic movement of people and goods, we must also take into account the reasons for those movements. The reasons always include geography.
At present, the world can actually be physically circled in less than a day, and we can talk to anyone, anytime, anyplace. Therefore, the history curriculum must address the world, not just one corner of it. Therefore, I view history and geography as a continuing course from grade K through12. The following are a series of suggestions so that students will have some familiarity and hence, some perspective on the world they live in.
Starting in kindergarten at age 5, begin with the basics - learning the names and locations of the continents, oceans, countries, their capitals, major rivers and other bodies of water. This knowledge must be constantly refreshed through the first 5 years of grammar school.
During the first two years of grammar school, emphasis can be placed on local geography and history.
Then on to the world in grades 3-4. With the current emphasis on the multi-cultural, check the ethnic origins of the class and do those countries that personally involve the students plus the major nations: France, Germany, China, Japan, Britain, Russia, India, Scandinavia, Canada, Brazil, Spain, etc. A week should be given to each country and include making maps, reading legends, learning customs, learning major industries and natural resources.
In the 5th grade, Egypt. Along with the obvious, I would suggest
That said, the 6th grade should be spent learning about ancient Greece and Rome, since they are the major sources of our western culture. Reading the myths, learning the names of the Greek gods and their relevency to modern times.Homer and the Iliad and the Odyssey which could be read in English class so that there is a tie-in. In fact, there is an excellent prose version of the Iliad and the Odyssey which is very suitable for that age group. Since many of Shakespeare's plots come from these times, it would be time well spent. Since the architecture and sculpture of Greece has been the inspiration for most of the architecture today, this too should be addressed. Also mention of the Pythagorean Theorem and Euclidean geometry. Also discuss Plato, Socrates, Hippocrates, Euclid, Homer, and other great Greeks and their contributions to modern life.
The 7th grade. On to Rome and the Roman Empire with all its requirements. Although Alexander the Great, a Greek, conquered vast areas, his early demise resulted in the immediate fragmentation of his empire. To Rome we owe the creation of the city, centralized government, road building, etc. This is a good time to introduce a discussion of governmental systems.
Latin provided the English language with its structure and much of its vocabulary. Of course, it is the root language of French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, and Italian. For centuries, the building styles of the world derived from the original Greek architectural and sculptural forms which were enhanced by the Romans.
The 8th grade. There should be a timeline around the room,
visible at all times. It helps enormously to have a visual to help
establish relationships among the events of history. Cover through the
14th century which contained the 100 years war and the Black Plague. It
will take careful planning to cover such a long time period but it is the
era when both Christianity and Islam were established In this time
period, the continents were basically separate entities in every way.
Although the Vikings did land in the New World, the discovery had no
lasting effects. This was the era of separate advancing cultures
flourishing in several separated areas all around the world, including the
Americas, and Africa.
The 9th grade. Now on to the great age of western exploration
and discovery of the 15th and 16th centuries. The choices
China made at this time to internalize - they built the Great Wall and
abandoned the notion of sea power while the European nations were
exploring the oceans of the world. The fall of Constantinople in
1453 and the end of the Byzantine Empire. In 1445,Gutenberg publishes the
first printed book in Europe - the Gutenberg Bible.
The 10th grade. Although the division by century is
not precise, it is convenient. The 17th century was the era of colonial
expansion and settlement worldwide. Wars continue. England had a great
civil war in the mid-1600's.World explorations continued. Louis XIV,
the Sun King, is king of France from 1643-1715 firmly establishing
French power and prestige. Most importantly, the Age of Reason (or
Enlightenment )develops between 1650-1750. This was an intellectual
movement characterized by a thirst for knowledge. The 18th century
culminates with the American and French Revolutions. The seeds of these
events however lie in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The 11th grade. With the solid background of the previous historical studies, U.S.History can now be studied from all angles - geographically, philosphically, ethnically, politically,and economically. To the best of my knowledge, no matter when you studied American history, no course ever covered closer to modern times than 40 or 50 years before the date of study. Knowing that, and knowing that the pace of change over the past 50 years has been on an accelerated level, I strongly recommend that the 11th grade course cover through 1950.
The 12th grade . With the firm establishment of a Global Attitude and the speed of change , it is reasonable to require a course in World History 1950-2000. It is the platform on which the future rests.
BOOKS RECOMMENDED FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS OF HISTORY
References for 3rd and 4th grade:
The Count Your Way Series: Africa,The Arab World, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia,
References for 5th grade to adult:
The Usborne Illustrated World History Dates
These books are invaluable for reference and for reliable factual knowledge. We stock them all the time.
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