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 emphasis on: 
        The Rosetta Stone discovered during the Napoleonic campaign. This enabled the hieroglyphics to be deciphered. Discussion of the multiplicity of languages and the problems of lost languages would be very enlightening. 
        The pyramids as calendars with reference to the fact that gigantic stone calendars were prevalent around 2000 B.C. Cite Stonehenge and others in England and Brittany. The discussion of time keeping and its importance to mankind from the beginning. 
        The invention of writing enabling the ruling administration to harness the Nile and keep records. Mention of the cuneiform writing of the Babylonians which did precede hieroglyphics.
        The clarity of the night sky in the desert resulted in a thoroughgoing knowledge of astronomy in ancient times. In fact, Egyptian knowledge of mathematics and science should also be studied with resulting reflection on how knowledge is lost and later rediscovered. 

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. 
        In the 1st century A.D. - The  Silk Route was established between Asia and Europe which led to the introduction of silk, purple dyes and spices into the European continent. This trade route remained in place until the mid-13th century (1200's) when the Mongol hordes swept out of Asia and disrupted the land trade routes. 
         In 312 A.D.the Roman Emperor Constantine became a Christian thereby leading to the establishment of Christianity as a state religion. 
        In 610 A.D. Islam was founded.
        From 800-1000 A.D. the rise of the Vikings and their explorations. The Viking Circle culminating with the Norman invasion of England in 1066. 
        The rise of Ghengis Khan and Kubla Khan and its effect on the European continent. Political shifts on the Asian continent  forced trade to continue more and more by sea. 
        Great cultures flourished in the Americas and Africa and elsewhere.
Discuss the flourishing growth of commerce, the seeds of the Renaissance, the rise of the Ottomans.

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 Renaissance in Europe. The conflicts among Spain, France, and Britain. Their motivations for exploration. The Reformation and the founding of the Protestant churches. Again, the importance of a time line. The Tudor rulers  of England. The defeat of the Spanish Armada by the British in 1588. Shakespeare. 
There are several nations vying for supremacy including the Dutch, the English, the Spanish, the Portuguese. Commerce and the banking systems are well-developed. 

 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 Ching dynasty is established in China. The Tokugawa era in Japan begins.   Japan becomes isolated until the arrival of Admiral Peary in the 1850's.       

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

The Penguin Atlas of Ancient History
The Penguin Atlas of Medieval History
The Penguin Atlas of  Modern History to 1815
The Penguin Atlas Of  Recent History through 1980
The Penguin Atlas of North American History to 1870
The Penguin Atlas of African History
The Penguin Historical Atlas of  the Pacific

Science in Ancient China
Science in Ancient Egypt
Science in Ancient Rome
Science in Early Islamic Cultures

Parallel Universe

How Would You Survive As:
     An Ancient Egyptian
     An Ancient Greek
     An Ancient Roman
     A Viking                                    
     In the Middle Ages
     An Aztec
     An American Indian
The Newspaper Histories:
     The Stone Age Sentinel
     The Egyptian Echo
     The Greek Gazette
     The Roman Record
     The Viking Invader
     The Medieval Messenger
The Horrible Histories:
     The Awesome Egyptians
     The Groovy Greeks
     The Rotten Romans
     The Vicious Vikings
     The Measly Middle Ages

The Children's Homer
Jason and the Golden Fleece
 

These books are invaluable for reference and for reliable factual knowledge. We stock them all the time. 



We would be delighted to hear from you with suggestions, questions or comments. Our e-mail address is: BooksInk@aol.com. We look forward to your correspondence.

 

 

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