Starting next Friday, I’ll be teaching a class in American History at this school, to an uncertain number of kids – 2? 10? – of an uncertain mix of ages – probably middle and high school, but could be some younger, even much younger kids involved.
Although I’ve never taught history to anybody, I’m going to make up my own syllabus because I can. The kids are unlikely to know anything, but are taking the class because they want to, which means engagement is a given.
Here’s what I’m thinking:
– Lots of background;
– Lots of fun stories;
– 1 date to remember each class. Catch: You need to have a basic idea of when things happened to have any context at all, yet dates don’t mean anything out of context. So, we’ll start ’em slow.
I’m thinking 10 45-60 minute segments, as follows. Only expanding on the first couple for now:
1. Prolegomenon: World Geography, Food, how people got where they are, American Indians.
We’ll start by reviewing basic world geography. Think I might introduce a few of Diamond’s more credible observations about resources and migrations. Talk about food – getting it, keeping it, fighting over it – and how it figures into how big and sophisticated your cities can be. Arrival of first Americans. Mound Builder cultures. The migration of maize.
This week’s date: 13,000 BC – about when American Indians are thought to have first arrived.
2. European Discoveries: Vikings; Italian Navigators (Columbus, Zuan Chabotto, Amerigo Vespucci); conquest; diseases.
This week’s date: 1497 – when John Cabot found a Basque cod fishing fleet off Nova Scotia.
3. Colonial Period
4. Revolution & Federal Government
5. Antebellum America
6. Civil War
7. Reconstruction to WWI
8. Great Depression to WWII
9. Post-war to Reagan
10. Modern Times
Well? Sounds like fun to me.