Chapter 15 Grade Ten – World History, Culture, and Geography: The Modern World



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History–Social Science Framework Second Field Review Draft

Approved by the Instructional Quality Commission November 20, 2015



Chapter 15

Grade Ten – World History, Culture, and Geography: The Modern World

  • How did ideas associated with the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, the Age of Reason, and a variety of democratic revolutions develop and impact civil society?

  • Why did imperial powers seek to expand their empires? How did colonies respond? What were the legacies of these conquests?

  • Why was the modern period defined by global conflict and cooperation, economic growth and collapse, and global independence and connection?

The more than two hundred and fifty year period covered by the tenth-grade course highlights the intensification of a truly global history as people, products, diseases, knowledge, and ideas spread around the world as never before. The course begins with a turning point: the important transition in European systems of governance from divine monarch to a modern definition of a nation-state organized around principles of the Enlightenment. The course ends with the present, providing ample opportunities for teachers to make connections to the globalized world in which students live. As students move through the years 1750 through the present they consider how a modern system of communication and exchange drew peoples of the world into an increasingly complex network of relationships in which Europe and the United States exerted great military and economic power. They explore how people, goods, ideas, and capital traveled throughout and between Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe. They analyze the results of these exchanges. The ability to see connections between events and larger social, economic, and political trends may be developed by having students consider the most fundamental changes of the era:

  • The intensification of the movement toward a global market aided by rapid transportation of goods around the world, powerful international financial institutions, and instantaneous communication

  • The emergence of industrial production as the dominant economic force that shaped the world economy and created a related culture of consumption

  • Increasing human impact on the natural and physical environment through the growth in world population, especially urban settings where populations engaged in mass consumption through mechanical and chemical developments related to the industrial revolution

  • Imperial expansion across the globe and the growth of nation-states as the most common form of political organization

  • The application of industrial technology and scientific advancements to the development of mechanized warfare, which drew millions of people into the experience of “total war”

  • The conflict between economic and political systems that defined the post-World War II period

  • The emergence of ideas of universal rights and popular sovereignty for all individuals, regardless of gender, class, religion, or race, which spread around the world

The content covered in grade ten is expansive, and the discipline-specific skills that are to be taught are equally demanding. In order to highlight significant developments, trends, and events, teachers should use framing questions around which their curriculum may be organized. Organizing content around questions of historical significance allows students to develop certain content areas in great depth. Framing questions also allow teachers the leeway to prioritize their content and highlight particular skills through students’ investigations of the past. Moreover, through an in-depth study of individual events and people, students can trace the development of even larger themes, such as the quest for liberty and justice, the influence and redefinition of national identity, and the rights and responsibilities of individual citizens. Questions that can frame the year-long content for tenth grade include: How did ideas associated with the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, the Age of Reason, and a variety of democratic revolutions develop and impact civil society? Why did imperial powers seek to expand their empires? How did colonies respond? What were the legacies of these conquests? Why was the modern period defined by global conflict and cooperation, economic growth and collapse, and global independence and connection?

As students learn about modern world history, they should be encouraged to develop reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills that will enhance their understanding of the content. As in earlier grades, students should be taught that history is an investigative discipline, one that is continually reshaped based on primary source research and on new perspectives that can be uncovered. Students should be encouraged to read multiple primary and secondary documents; to understand multiple perspectives; to learn about how some things change over time and others tend not to; and they should appreciate that each historical era has its own context and it is up to the student of history to make sense of the past on these terms and by asking questions about it.


The World in 1750

  • How were most societies organized in the 1700s?

  • Who held power in the 1700s? Why?

  • What was the divine right of kings?

Students begin tenth grade world history with a survey of the world in 1750. This question can frame students’ initial explorations: How were most societies organized in the 1700s? Students analyze maps of the gunpowder empires (Qing China, Mughal India, Ottoman Empire, Safavid Persia, Spain, France, England), trade routes (Atlantic World, Pacific/Indian Ocean, and world trade systems), and colonies. The teacher explains that in 1750, people were living in the very end of the pre-modern world. Although there had been many differences in peoples’ experiences depending on their location, culture, and language, there were certain broad patterns that were present in most states and empires. Most states and empires were ruled by one leader, called a king, tsar, sultan, emperor, shah, or prince. Students can consider the comparative question: Who held power in the 1700s? Why? This ruler was usually, but not always, a man who came from a dynasty, a family of rulers. Dynasties changed all the time, when kings were defeated and overthrown, but the winners would then set up a new dynasty under one leader. The tsar or sultan got his legitimacy from his birth into the royal family and the support of religious and political elites. Most emperors claimed that they had been chosen or blessed by divine power, and that they ruled on behalf of God to keep order and justice in the society. The question What was the divine right of kings? helps students consider the construction of monarchial governments and societies.

Besides the royal family, there were elite groups in that society who had political, military, or religious power, and owned wealth and land. These elite groups went by different names in each state or empire, such as nobles and scholar-officials, but they had privileges, that is, special rights that ordinary people did not have. Often elite status was based on birth. There weren’t many elites, either, as they were about three to five percent of the population. Below the elite groups, there was a small middle class. But the majority of people in the world worked as farmers and had very little wealth or material possessions, no education, and no political power. The reason that this poor farmers group was so large was because of the limits of energy, power sources, and technology in the pre-modern world. Ninety percent of the people had to work full-time at farming, spinning thread for cloth, and other repetitive manual jobs to produce food, clothing and shelter for everyone. The only power sources were human, animal, wind, and water. There was only enough surplus in the society for a small percentage of people to have more than basic food, clothing, and shelter.

Dynasties and elite groups defended their power, wealth, and privilege through customs of social order, force and propaganda. They usually resisted giving power to lower social groups, for fear that the nobles or other elites would lose their wealth and privileges. In all societies, customs of social order were hierarchical, meaning that people were unequal. Some people were higher and better than ordinary people.

Grade Ten Classroom Example: The Divine Monarch

Ms. Lee’s tenth grade class is learning about the divine monarch by focusing on one key 1610 speech that King James I delivered to Parliament. Ms. Lee has excerpted this speech (she found it by searching online for King James I’s “Speech to Parliament” and locates portion that begins with the phrase, “The state of Monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth…” and continues for the next three paragraphs) because it illustrates the way in which kings were perceived to be divinely inspired, and thus their power was understood to be god-like. She has also selected this speech because it clearly lays out the central claim and supporting details of why King James I felt this way. Ms. Lee begins her lesson by telling her students that they will be investigating the question: How did King James I argue that kings are like gods? After providing her students with very brief background information about when and how James came to power, Ms. Lee presents the primary source to her students. She tells her students that this is a relatively straight-forward primary source because King James I makes a claim, he supports his claims with reasons, and he offers evidence for his reasons and central claim (in much the same way her students would make a claim in an essay). She directs her students to read through the speech a couple of times, making annotations as they find different claims King James I makes. As they read the speech a first time, Ms. Lee’s students read for the broad claims. As they read it a second time, Ms. Lee tells her students to work on filling in the graphic organizer she has created. The graphic contains boxes for which students are directed to fill in the following information: 1) the central claim made by James I; 2) the reasons he uses to support his central claim; 3) the evidence he provides to illustrate his reasons; 4) the flaw in his reasons. After Ms. Lee’s students complete the graphic, she facilitates table then whole-class discussions to confirm that the students understand the way in which King James I constructs his argument, and that his central flaw lies in his central claim. Ms. Lee then asks her students to work in pairs to construct a paragraph response to the central question: How did King James I argue that kings are like gods?



CA CCSS for ELA/Literacy: RH.9–10.1, 2, 5, 8, WHST.9–10.2, 7, 9

CA ELD Standards: ELD.PI.9–10.6b, 7, 8, 11a; ELD.PII.9–10.1


1750-1917: Revolutions Reshape the World



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