A working knowledge of European history is the essential point of entry into a study of World History because it introduces students to cultural, economic, political, and social developments that played a fundamental role in shaping the world in which they live. Without this knowledge, we would lack the context for understanding the development of contemporary institutions, the role of continuity and change in present-day society and politics, and the evolution of current forms of artistic expression and intellectual discourse. In addition to providing a basic narrative of events and movements, the goals of IB History SL/HL Year One are to develop (a) an understanding of some of the principal themes in European history, (b) an ability to analyze historical evidence and historical interpretation, and (c) an ability to express historical understanding in writing.
The discipline of history is made complex by its reliance on human sources which are incomplete and imperfect. Bias and perspective (point of view) influence individual accounts of historic events, which forces the historian to pursue multiple sources as he/she attempts to explain “what happened.”
The history of modern Europe is characterized by notable continuities with the pre-modern Era. Contributions of the ancient Greeks and Romans and the power asserted by medieval European authorities continued to resonate as modern European ideas and institutions emerged and evolved.
Year One of IB History SL/HL is co-seated with AP European History.
Weeks 1-3 of Year One, but the Historiography concepts and skills, though introduced at the beginning of the course, will be present and constantly referenced throughout the course. The concepts will be addressed explicitly again at the beginning of Year Two, in conjunction with the Internal Assessment: Historical Investigation.
1. History is an academic discipline that seeks firstto explain what happened – a task made difficult by the complex nature of sources – and then to explain why it happened.
I can explain and suggest solutions to the pitfalls involved in writing history.
I can define and evaluate various theories of history.
I can discuss the influence of context on a historical event.
I can examine how historical processes influence events.
I can evaluate and synthesize evidence from both historical sources and commentary and background knowledge to produce critical commentary and reasoned arguments.
I can examine historical events, people, and trends using evidence to support relevant, balanced, and focused historical arguments.
2. The ideas and institutions that characterize modern Europe had their origins in the works of the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Medieval Europeans.
I can examine the Ancient Greeks’ contributions to modern European history and culture. I can examine the Ancient Romans’ contributions to modern European history and culture.
I can describe the process by which the Greek/Roman heritage was lost and preserved.
I can describe the role of the Frankish kings in preserving and expanding the Roman Catholic Church in Europe.
3. The power and wealth that characterized modern absolute monarchs was preceded by a dynamic which saw power held by the Church and distributed among nobles. Elements of this dynamic persevered into the modern era.
I can analyze the sources of the nobles’ power in pre-modern Europe.
I can analyze the sources of the Roman Catholic Church’s power in pre-modern Europe.
I can analyze the emerging struggle between secular and spiritual authority in pre-modern Europe.
I can examine the relationship between the power of the Roman Catholic Church and the success of the First Crusade.
History is a very difficult and complex discipline, made so by the fact that it relies on human sources, which are notoriously unreliable and idiosyncratic, as evidence. The historical record from which historians seek to synthesize evidence is often incomplete, either because certain events or people were deliberately or accidentally excluded. To the extent that the record is present, it is made the less reliable by bias and its less insidious, but utterly ubiquitous “partner-in-crime,” point-of-view, also known as perspective. The trouble that these have caused historians has led many to adopt an over-simplified “cause and effect” approach to understanding history, which abandons the attempt to synthesize a true narrative and in doing do deprives individuals of their role in history.
The alternative is to embrace the complexity of history and accept the challenge of constructing a narrative from an array of diverse and often conflicting sources. In doing so, the historian must have at his/her disposal not only an understanding of events or people, but the broader context in which those events and people were situated, as well as a sense of the processes which influence those people and events. This understanding allows for a rigorous examination of sources designed to extract the best information available from those sources, despite the presence of bias and/or perspective. By combining the information thus extracted with factual evidence, a balanced and coherent historical narrative or argument may be produced.
For Europeans, history began with the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Greeks established the very concept of citizenship that is practiced in Europe today, and created standards for structured thinking in science and philosophy that influenced modern European thought. Similarly, their standards in the literary and visual arts have stood the test of time. Their concept of individual achievement has been perhaps the most lasting and deeply-rooted of their many contributions to modern Europe. The Romans were less creative and lofty, but their practical focus on how to provide for and govern large populations (through civil engineering and a republican government structured with checks and balances) also served as models for modern Europeans. When the Roman empire collapsed, much of the accumulated knowledge of the ancient Greeks and Romans was lost in western Europe, but its preservation by the Byzantines and Arab Muslims allowed it to be reintroduced, sparking the Renaissance 1000 years later.
In the meantime, the only surviving institution was the Church, headquartered in Rome. The Franks emerged as the only organized Christian kingdom of the early medieval period, and as such became the chief defenders of Christian societies and institutions against barbarian and Muslim challenges. Under the rule of Charlemagne, the Franks established the first European empire since the fall of Rome and forcefully expanded Christianity into eastern Europe. The Viking invasions, however, sent western European into chaos, and kings were forced to invent new structures to secure their kingdoms.
In this environment, kings found themselves bereft of real power. On the one hand, the Church and its leader, the Pope, held spiritual powers that could bring monarchs literally to their knees by threatening them and their subjects with eternal damnation. On the other hand, kings had become totally reliant on their nobles to secure and administer their kingdoms. When kings tried to lord over their nobles, they might be “put in their place,” as happened to King John of England when Magna Carta placed legal limits on his power; then kings tried to challenge the Pope, they were forced to back down, as happened to Henry IV, HRE in the lay investiture controversy.
To assess students’ comprehension of the text, students will be required to create a chapter outline or synopsis weekly that measures their comprehension of the major people, events, and trends that characterize the era or theme being studied during that portion of the unit. They may be quizzed or required to produce a written response to prompt. Evidence of students’ miscomprehension or lack of comprehension is addressed by the teacher in subsequent lessons.
To assess students’ mastery of in-class instruction, students will be required to complete short assignments that address each learning target (or perhaps groups of no more than two or three closely-related learning targets at a time) as it is completed. These assignments will employ IB command terms, and feedback will include information about the extent to which each command term has been fulfilled as well as information related to the completion of the learning target. Scores of 0-4 will represent: 4 = fulfillment of all command terms with complete and accurate information; 3 = fulfillment of all command terms with some gaps or errors in information; 2 = at least one command term is not fulfilled or there are significant gaps or errors in information; 1 = at least one command term is not fulfilled and there are significant gaps or errors in information; 0 = no attempt. Students may re-submit formative assessment assignments with revisions based on feedback and receive higher scores until the day that the unit summative assessment is administered. Assessment of students’ mastery of historiography will be ongoing; it will be inherent in students’ formative and summative assessment work, and the instructor must provide constant feedback in order to reinforce or adjust students’ practice of historiography.
Because IB History SL/HL students may choose to take the AP European History exam at the end of Year One, summative assessment must reflect components of both the AP European History exam and the IB History SL/HL exam papers. Students will therefore be required to complete a series of multiple choice questions that are modeled after those which will appear on the AP European History Exam. In these, more than one plausible response is provided, and the student must distinguish the correct response from among the merely plausible. They will also be required to complete a series of written items that employ IB command terms, reflect IB expectations for rigor in expressing mastery of content and concepts, and approximate (in point values and time allowed) the experience of taking the IB History exam papers. When practical, authentic IB exam items from past IB History exams may be used, but it is not necessary. Summative assessments should be graded using markschemes that are similar to those used by IB examiners to grade IB History exam papers; these may be developed by the teacher using past markschemes as examples. Among these written items, students will be required to complete essays that integrate content and concepts from throughout the unit into a coherent written argument. In the case of a document-based question, the student is required to also integrate evidence from a series of provided primary sources, analyzing the documents using the IB History OPVL (origin, purpose, value, limitations) analytical framework.
Palmer, R. R., Colton, Joel, and Kramer, Lloyd, A History of the Modern World Tenth Edition
Caldwell, Amy, Beeler, John, and Clark, Charles, eds., Sources of Western Society
Norman Davies, Europe: A History
Davison, Michael Worth, ed., Everyday Life through the Ages
Lualdi, Katharine, ed., Sources of The Making of the West
Sherman, Dennis, Western Civilization: Sources, Images, and Interpretations
Tierney, Brian, Kagan, Donald, and Williams, L. Pearce, eds., Great Issues in Western Civilization
Burke, James, The Day the Universe Changed
Cahill, Thomas, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter
Due to the nature of the IB History curriculum, it is difficult to envision an approach to enrichment. The course is taught with the expectation that its content and standards for performance are equivalent to those of a first-year college survey course, and students who choose to enroll this course do so in anticipation that the course, in and of itself, is an enrichment of their education in history. Opportunities for enrichment lay in students’ choices to expand specific inquiries in each unit and in the instructors’ freedom and flexibility (given the additional instructional hours built into this course beyond the minimum required by IB) to allow for additional days to indulge that expanded inquiry. IB Diploma Programme Students may also choose to focus their Historical Investigation or even their Extended Essay on one of the topics from any unit. Students may also choose to read the complete versions of texts (including primary sources) referenced during the course, with the encouragement and support of the instructor.
IB Literature: Historical background for works of literature; writing analytical essays
IB Latin: Historical background for works of Latin literature / Roman culture
IB Visual Arts: Historical background for works of art and architecture
IB Extended Essay: Opportunities for Extended Essay topics
IB Theory of Knowledge: What is history; standards for truth in history and question of what “drives” history; origins and evolution of language and reason as ways of knowing; ways to represent reality in visual arts
In IB courses, linking the daily instructional effort to the long-term goal of success on IB History exam papers is probably the most important intervention needed. It is therefore important to: (1) develop daily skills that will allow students to summarize and organize the information they will need to be successful on exams; (2) teach students to develop a systematic approach to exam preparation; (3) provide extra assistance with exam preparation in the form of student- or teacher-led study groups/review sessions. For students who struggle to read, it is advised that instructional time (when practical) and/or “outside-the-classroom” time (when necessary) be used to piece together the meanings of difficult academic, statistical, or policy-related texts. When available, alternative texts or summaries of difficult texts may be provided to students whose reading deficiencies are significant. IB Diploma Programme Students are strongly advised to maximize their use of “IB Advisory” period to seek individualized support from their IB teachers.