From: Howard Levin
Independent 5-12th Grades
Social Studies Chair
I am seeking input on our new 3-Year World History sequence (high school, 9th-11th) which essentially ELIMINATES the traditional junior-year U.S. history course. Starting next year the content of American history will be integrated into a 3-year chronologically based world history program. Please continue to read below if this interests you and if you can provide some advice, in particular re: texts. We simply have not found suitable world history texts which sufficiently cover U.S. history. These books assume that U.S. history will be taught separately and we are striving to fully integrate U.S. history within this 3-year curriculum. One text of interest is Kevin Reilly's _The West and the World_, a college audience text which is certainly usable by advanced 10th/11th graders. Unfortunately these two volumes are too short to be stretched over 3-years even with frequent primary source-book supplements. Any suggestions or feedback would be appreciated.
The 9th grade incorporates the rise of civilizations and comparative religions focusing on the era up through the 1400's, and will include the pre-white contact Americas. The 10th grade covers the 16th-mid 19th centuries, with heavy focus on European global contacts (expansion, colonialism, imperialism), age of revolutions (American/French/Russian/China), and the age of "isms" (capitalism, socialism, communism, Darwinism, etc.), and will focus on political/economic development. The 11th grade will focus primarily on the 20th century world. Again, American issues are incorported in all three full-years of study.
One of the key pedagogical concepts (still under development!) is creating historical timeline "spikes." In other words we will build into our program the flexibility of crossing chronological boundaries in order to develop a strong sense of historical perspective and cause-effect relationships when following thematic units. For instance, even though the rough outline of the 10th grade ends mid-19th century, the theme of revolution will be carried far into the 20th century and up to today when looking at Russia/China and comparing their historical development to the U.S. This "spiking" can also work backwards, such as in the 11th grade 20th century world curriculum which perhaps would jump back to the rise of Islam when exploring late 20th century nationalism and Middle East conflict.
At the heart of this curricular change is the notion that separating American History from the rest of world history is becoming increasingly inappropriate in our rapidly globalized, interdependent environment. Yes, it is vital that our students learn the history of our country, but not in isolation from the histories of the other 4-3/4 billion other inhabitants. That is precisely why we argue that students need 3 solid years of true world history.
I invite, desire, and encourage critical commentary as well as suggestions for implementation.
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