World History Syllabus
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to look at the world anew. A virus that originated across the globe has had a devastating impact on our lives. Over 600,000 people have died in the United States and 3.5 million worldwide. 120 million people around the globe were pushed into poverty. But the impact of the global pandemic has not been felt equally. While for many 2020 brought loss, unemployment, poverty, food insecurity and trauma, for some the pandemic brought immense wealth. The wealth of billionaires rose by $5,000,000,000,000 ($5 trillion) last year. How do we make sense of a world where billions struggle to survive, while a tiny minority holds on to most of the world's wealth?
To make sense of this deeply unequal world, and to learn how we might change it, we must have a sense of World History.
Some people think that in World History, students should memorize the locations of all the countries of the world, their capitals, and the major products. In high school I took a class like that. It was boring and I hated it. Other people think that in World History students should learn systematically about every continent — people’s cultures, histories, and political systems. But this method can miss the important issues that cut across continents, and how we in the United States are connected to people everywhere in the world. Furthermore, because covering all of world history in a single year is an impossible task, this method often prioritizes Eurocentric views of history.
Instead, the focus of this class will be to try to understand the roots of some of the key problems facing the world today and to learn from the struggles people have engaged in throughout history to make the world a better place.
The world is a scary, delightful, horrible, and wonderful place. This class will try to capture some of that.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS COURSE?
This class will focus on understanding the roots of some of the key problems facing the world today: inequality in wealth and power, destruction of cultures and the environment, displacement and violations of human rights, violence and war. But we’re not going to concentrate only on problems; we’re also going to look at potential solutions and study what people have done here and in other countries to make the world a better place. I’m not going to ask you to memorize a lot of global trivia, but I will ask you to think, write, debate, and create. We will try to see the world as others see it. Our goal will be to learn about the world in order to change it: to become better global citizens.
Our class will focus on key themes that help us understand the world:
Each of these themes will include several “inquiries” in which we explore compelling questions and communicate-conclusions. As well as "case studies" where we look at a particular country and moment in history as an example for understanding the broader themes and questions we are studying.
In class we’ll be debating and discussing controversial and meaningful topics. We will also have many role-plays and simulations.
This class does not use a textbook. This means that the readings for the course will be pulled from a variety of sources. We will do a lot of writing: poems, stories, essays, interior monologues.
This class will be about history, but it will also be about you and making sense of your own experiences in light of the history you will learn. That means we will regularly be writing about our own lives and connecting them to the themes we're learning about.
WHAT ARE THE EXPECTATIONS FOR STUDENTS?
Come to class prepared and on time. Everyday has a purpose and class participation is essential. At the end of each unit of study, students will produce a product (essay, project, speech, etc.) that demonstrates understanding of larger concepts and issues. When you arrive in class, please turn off and put away your cell phones; headphones may not be worn in class. In addition, I expect you to:
Challenge yourself and others
It’s vital that everyone feels safe and comfortable enough to participate. Absolutely no racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic put-downs.
WHERE WILL I SUBMIT MY WORK?
HOW WILL I BE GRADED?
The goal of this class will be to develop your skills as a thinker, listener, speaker, reader and a writer. As per Philadelphia school district policy your grades will consist of the following:
40% - Tests/Essays
30% - Project-Based Learning
20% - Classwork
10% - Homework
WILL I HAVE A LOT OF HOMEWORK?
Educational research is unclear whether homework has any benefit for students. Therefore, I try to minimize the amount of homework I assign. Homework in our class will mostly be work that you start but do not finish in class or optional activities that will help deepen your knowledge about what we're discussing in class.
CAN I TURN IN
When you are absent, you are responsible for completing all missed assignments. If you have to be absent for multiple days, please contact me to explain the situation and figure out how to make up the work. When you are turning in late work, you must fill out "That Late Jawn" and attach it to the assignment. I care more about the quality of your work than when you turn it in.