Do any of you have any stories of successful (or unsuccessful, I guess) stories of transforming your history curriculum from a traditional, Eurocentric focus to a more globally representative curriculum.
I have done exactly that. We are 3 years into it and it has gone well. I teach at an all-boys boarding school that had the traditional 9th grade-Ancient and Medieval, 10th grade-Modern Europe, 11th grade-US, 12th grade-electives structure. A few of our electives included area studies...Middle East, etc. What we did was change the 9th grade course to Global Studies...it is a more social studies approach with plenty of history, geography, religion, and culture. We will offer Ancient and Medieval electives in the future after the ones who took it in 9th grade graduate. Plus, Global Studies covers great deal on the development of religion in the Middle East, but sacrificed time on Greek and Roman Empires. Essentially, it is limited to how these empires shaped the development of the Middle East and North Africa.
I have attached a few documents and course descriptions, but after teaching the honors section, I can relay how I have done it in practice.
Basically, it is roughly a quarter each on 1) Middle East and North Africa; 2) South and East Asia; 3) Sub-saharan Africa; 4) Latin America. In practice, I usually spend 1-2 weeks more on the Middle East/North Africa and South and East Asia than the last two regions. This is due to interest, significance, and coverage in textbooks. With each region we start with geography, then rise of civilizations in that region, focus largely on religious and cultural awakenings as we go through a chronological history and cultural development.
Your biggest obstacle for the class is finding a textbook. "Traditions and Encounters" by Bentley and others from McGraw Hill is your best reference and would be a good textbook for an AP or college course. It is a chronological world history that focuses on the development of cultures and then what happens when two different world cultures class. However, this book is too much for most high school students. We use "World History: Connections to Today" from Pearson-Prentice Hall. So we skip around the book b/c it is organized chronologically. There are many middle school books arranged by region, but not ones at the high school level.
If you want to go with a chronological world history approach, there are plenty of good books out there, but to have good coverage, you need to have a World History I and II over two school years with a break at either c. 1500 or c. 1800. In my experience, c.1500 is a natural break for Asia and Latin America (prior to the rise of colonization) where c.1800 is better for Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa (prior to rise of imperialism).
Here is why I like doing the regional studies approach that we use:
1) The students see and learn how a culture develops in a contained contiguous fashion
2) By naming the sections as we do, we highlight and elevate the importance of focusing on each specific region and the Western encounters are approached as "outsiders coming in" whereas chronologically it seems that there is less emphasis on the "colonized"
3) It allows you to incorporate art, culture, literature in a more thorough fashion
4) I find it more focused
For us, this works well, b/c then students see the development of Modern European culture in the 10th grade year and so overall we have a balance...1 year of non-western, 1 year of Western, 1 year of US. I always caution on being so "global" that we neglect the importance of the Western Heritage.
I have tons more I can offer you. Before returning to teaching high school, I went to a grad program that focused on contemporary world history and we talked much on how to "globalize" the study. I have many more resources and when I am on my school computer, I would be glad to email you more material.
I signed onto this site simply to respond to your post, and I do not know how often I will return, so feel free to email me. I am new to this virtual discussion world.
It has not been possible to implement it at my school, but I like World History for Us All, developed by San Diego State University and The National Center for History in the Schools. It has an excellent world view, with units centered on eras rather than civilizations.
That program looks really interesting. I really like the idea of integrating things around themes rather than geographical location. My experience is that when you cover regions, Europe and the US get incredibly coverage while other regions wind up being places that are conquered or exploited. That's a rather skewed narrative and leaves out too much. Thanks for sharing!
I know exactly what you mean re: "conquered and exploited." That's why I insist on teaching the Empire of Islam BEFORE Medieval Europe and the Crusades. Suddenly, the view of Muslims as uncivilized infidels no longer holds water.
I agree...but think it is a result of teacher's personal knowledge and/or lack of education from a global perspective. Many just do not know the cultural awakenings of Africa, Asia, etc prior to their conquering/exploitation. Luckily, with programs like this one, things are starting to change.
We are about to review our Global Studies program after 4 years and I appreciate both of your input. Maybe some others will slowly fine this site. It is pretty cool to be able to have a discussion that had about a year long break in it.
Thank you Lynn...I really like what they are doing here...especially how it builds a resource for teachers who rarely know the history of every region and time period of the world. I hope the university looks into producing a textbook based off of this program.
We offer a "global studies" course -- a required class all middle school students take in eight grade. This helps t globalize the curriculum while also allowing us to meet the standards we need to have for our US dominant population.