Industrialization: Proposed Lesson Plan for ap world History Grades 11-12

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Industrialization: Proposed Lesson Plan for AP World History

Grades 11-12

Rita Brunkow, Teacher

Industrialization is a global macro-change that started in the 18th century in Great Britain and continues today in developing states. Students will compare the 18th century industrial revolution in England to industrialization in China. They will learn how internal and external factors promoted or hindered industrialization. Another important aspect of this unit is to consider the effects of industrialization on social, political, economic, and cultural conditions.

Central Questions:

  1. What factors/causes are necessary for industrialization?

  1. Why did England industrialize first? Why not China?

  1. What is macro-change and how is industrialization a macro-change?

Wisconsin Standard:

B.12.9 Select significant changes caused by technology, industrialization, urbanization, and population growth, and analyze the effects of these changes in the United States and the world.

Day One: Linking Consumerism and the Industrial Revolution1
Draw a simple table on the white/black board (below).


Students can split into small groups and duplicate the table on a sheet of paper. Handout out the following list of items to each group:

Comfortable work clothing, shoes, sugar, bed, tea, coffee, watch, hat, soap, jewelry, perfume, guns (including military weapons), razor, umbrella, knife, dress clothing, tobacco, chair, cupboard, toys.
Have students place each item on their chart according to whether it is a need or want. They are to assume the perspective of someone in early 18th century England.
Ask groups to share some of their results. Chances are, not all groups will have the same results.
Ask students to consider how many of those same items we consider needs in 2006. Ask if they think there is a difference in perspective when classifying needs and wants from 300 years ago to today. Ask them to consider the perspective of a Cro-Magnon woman 15,000 years ago. How many of the items would be a need for her?

If students have not already concluded so, explain that all the items are wants, none are needs.

Write the following statement on the board and have students copy it at the top of a sheet of blank paper:
Consumerism promoted the industrialization revolution when shopkeepers and producers began to realize that wants and needs were infinitely stretchable.”
Ask students to define consumerism. They should be able to say consumerism is when you buy things not needed. Refer back to the example of changing “needs” from the Cro-Magnon to 17tht century to 2006 and ask them to add more to their definition. Hopefully, they can conclude that consumerism is consuming things you do not need, while believing you do need them – stretching needs and wants, stretching wants into needs. Have students write a class constructed definition of consumerism below the earlier statement on their papers.
Ask students to predict what shopkeepers and producers in 18th century Europe did when they “began to realize that wants and needs were infinitely stretchable”. If they cannot answer, ask what shopkeepers and producers do today help “stretch” wants and needs of customers. If they still cannot answer, add this question to the homework assignment. (Stearns covers it well in the reading).
Homework: After reading pages 15-23 of Stearns’ Consumerism in World History, students may disagree or agree with the bolded statement (above). They must write at least a 5 sentence paragraph supporting their position.

Day 2: Ingredients for an Industrial Revolution
Ask students what they found interesting in the reading.
Review the topic from yesterday by reminding them of the position statement:
Consumerism promoted the industrialization revolution when shopkeepers and producers began to realize that wants and needs were infinitely stretchable.”
Have students share their position and written statement with a classmate
This position statement is another version of the chicken or egg first question. Which came first, consumerism or industrialization? Stearns position clearly is that consumerism promoted industrialization. Ask students who disagreed or had different interpretations to share.
What is industrialization?

Share some definitions with students:

  • A process that transforms agrarian and handicraft-centered economies into economies distinguished by industry and machine manufacture (Bentley p816)

  • The change in social and economic organization resulting from the replacement of hand tools by machine and power tools and the development of large-scale industrial production: applied to this development in England from about 1760 and to later changes in other countries (Webster’s New World Dictionary)

  • Modernization

  • the major technological, socioeconomic and cultural change in the late 18th and early 19th century that began in Britain and spread throughout the world (Wikipedia)

  • A massive increase in production, and related acceleration of transportation, communication and sales capacities. The heart of this increase was new technology, particularly technology based on coal or waterpower instead of human or animal power.2

Tell students the exact definition is not important, but the concept is. Industrialization is a macro-change equal to the development of agriculture. The process usually takes 80-100 years for full transformation. What caused the Industrial Revolution? A number of factors combined–there is no simple one-shot explanation.

Brainstorming activity: as a class, list ingredients they think necessary for industrialization.

  • Draw on the board and have students duplicate on plain paper the following:










  • Explain the difference between internal and external factors. Use the example that England had a lot of capital to invest in machinery, technology, and factories because they had engaged in a great deal of trade in sugar, textiles, and slaves etc… This necessary capital was an external factor.

    • An internal factor example would be the presence of coal as a raw material in England. However, a country like Japan that had to import coal would be an external factor.

  • Have students write factors on their copies as the brainstorming progresses. Do not be concerned if they cannot come up with many, this is just a start.

  • Looking for things like: power (coal), technology (machines, steam engine), increased iron production (technology, access to raw materials), transportation (railroads, navigable waterways), labor (population), efficient agriculture production (food), capital (trade), favorable government policy (promoted industrialization, trade, responsive to reform),use of corporations to raise capital, demand (for products)

Homework: Read Bentley & Ziegler Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past, p816-820. Stop when you reach “The Factory System”. Write any factors of industrialization you come across in the reading on your chart in a different color than you used in class.
This can be an in class assignment if there is time. If there is time still left, you can go over the chart in class to make sure everyone has these important factors necessary for industrialization.

Day 3: Coal, Steam, and Iron…All Aboard!
Go over factors on the chart from Day 2 if you have not already done so.
Teacher led portion: PowerPoint – Coal, Steam, and Iron.

The PowerPoint traces the early development and relationship between these vital ingredients for industrialization. Most of the material is from Coal: A Human History by Barbara Freese, Penguin Books, 2003.

Write this statement on the board and have students copy it to their notebooks:
Explain what the author means when she states,

Coal mining was one of the few occupations in which a person faced a very real risk of death by all four classical elements – earth, air, fire, and water”.

Homework: There should be some in class reading time. Read 43-69 of Coal: A Human History. Respond to the above statement in your notebook with at least a five sentence paragraph. Construct a diagram, drawing, or some visual that demonstrates the relationship between coal, steam, and iron (including railroads) that promoted the industrial revolution.

Day 4: Why England First?
Geography matters: Use a world map to locate England. Emphasize its small size compared to other countries such as Russia and China.
Overhead #1: relative size of England


Overhead #2:

England had coal, but not nearly as much as many other countries. Take a closer look at England and have students think about coal and effective use of it at the start of the industrial revolution. Ask them what about England allowed them to harness the power of coal more effectively than other countries.

(easier transport, England was surrounded by water + there were many rivers and even canals they could use) Russia, China, and even other European countries did not have the water transportation system England did.
Homework: Read Bentley & Ziegler p 820 The Factory System up to p 831 Industry and Society. As you read, look for ingredients or factors that favor industrialization. There are at least 7 in the reading. Add them to your chart in your notebook in a third color of ink or marker.

Day 5: Why not China?
Go over the factors students found in the reading. Make sure they found and added sufficient labor force, technology/machinery, manufacturing techniques (piecework), favorable government policies, political stability, skilled and disciplined work force, economic and legal structures that support business like corporations, banks, and brokerage firms. Ask students how each affected and promoted the process of industrialization.
Some students may suggest effects rather than factors of industrialization. Take care to make sure they understand the difference between effects of industrialization and factors since the reading contains both. We will cover effects of industrialization later.
Point out to students that China had a more extensive and longer history of global trade and connection than England. Refer back to the coal deposit map and point out that China had much coal and China actually used coal earlier and more extensively long before England learned to use it. Tell students that China had a smaller “industrialization revolution” 700 years before Great Britain started theirs. During the Northern Song dynasty, China leaned to make iron with coal 700 years before the process was re-discovered in England. Have students copy the following in their notebooks:

With such a head start on industrialization, why did China fall behind?”

Homework: Read pages 202-207 of Coal: A Human History. Answer the bolded question on China in your notebook.

Day 6: Why Not China? (continued)
Discuss the question from the previous day. Why did China fall behind? Ask students to share their answers. Make sure students understand:

  • China had most of the same resources coal, iron, capital, as England

    • The difference regarding development of resources was TRANSPORTATION; location of coal reserves away from populated areas, no extensive water system like England. China had gone about as far as it could go with human and animal power.

  • Chinese political leaders pursued a policy of isolation while England did not

In Class Activity:

  • Have students read Emperor Qianlong’s letter to King George III of England on trade (p736 of Bentley & Ziegler)

  • Have each group compose a two sentence concise summary of what Qianlong is saying to King George III. Each group should share their summary with the class.

Pose the question at the bottom of p. 736 –“What consideration might have prompted the Chinese government to take such a restrictive approach to foreign trade?” Discuss any suggestions they bring up.

Read them a passage from the end of one chapter in China’s history. The passage is from Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. If students have not studied the Mongol empire, they will need a short explanation of Mongol rule over China. The passage is as follows:
After the overthrow of Mongol rule, the triumphant Ming rulers issued edicts forbidding the Chinese from wearing Mongol dress, giving their children Mongol names, and following other foreign habits. In an effort to revitalize the Chinese principles of government and social life, the Ming rulers systematically rejected many of the Mongol policies and institutions. They expelled the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish traders whom the Mongols had encouraged to settle in China, and in a major blow to the commercial system of the Mongols, Ming authorities abolished the failing paper money entirely and returned to metal. They rejected the Tibetan Lamaist Buddhism that the Mongols had sponsored, and replaced it with traditional Taoist and Confucian thought and traditions. After an abortive effort to revitalize the Mongol trade system, the new rulers burned their ocean vessels, banned foreign travel for Chinese, and spent a large portion of the gross national product on building massive new walls to lock foreigners out and the Chinese in. In so doing, the new Chinese authorities stranded thousands of their citizens living in the ports of Southeast Asia.”3

Explain that throughout China’s long history there were often times when China was in chaos because local warlords or foreigners fought for control. China alternated between periods of political unity and disunity. There was often violence. China was occasionally conquered by external groups of people, such as the Mongols. Because of these hardships, China viewed the world differently than England, and political leaders responded differently.

POWERPOINT on Why England First?

  • Read pages 731-738 of Bentley & Ziegler. This section deals with Confucianism and its effect on trade in China.

  • Have students draw another chart and this time label and place the factors for industrialization China possessed in the 18th century.

  • Have students review their first chart, label it England, and add any factors that apply










*Interesting further reading from Dr. William M. Tsutsui online lecture from his university course
Day 7: How is industrialization a macro-change?
Have students draw a third diagram and label it effects of industrialization:










Teacher led: What is Macro-change?

  • Macro-changes cross geographical boundaries, they are global

  • They normally occur over long periods of time, they are not instantaneous

  • Process based rather than event based

  • They affect many areas of life such as social, political, family, economic, environment, cultural etc…

  • There is no going back, they are irreversible

Examples of Macro-change in world history:

  1. photosynthesis evolved to a from where free oxygen was produced and began to accumulate in the atmosphere

    1. led to animal life

    2. life on land

    3. diversity of life

  2. human brains developed so abstract thinking, language, and collective knowledge could take place

    1. use of symbols

    2. social, cooperative behavior

    3. learning and teaching take place

  1. agricultural revolution

    1. settlements and cities develop

    2. division of labor

    3. population increase

  2. industrial revolution

    1. you tell me

HOMEWORK: Read Bentley & Ziegler pages 820-843. Place the effects of industrialization that you find in the reading in the appropriate place on your 3rd chart.
ASSESSMENT for this 8 day unit: Students write in-class essays on 2 of the 3 essential questions at the beginning of the lesson:
Central Questions:

  1. What factors/causes are necessary for industrialization?

  1. Why did England industrialize first? Why not China?

  1. What is macro-change and explain how industrialization is a macrochange?


1 Peter Stearns, Consumerism in World History: The Global Transformations of Desire (Routledge: New York, 2001) 16-23.

2 Peter Stearns core definition.

3 Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Crown Publishers, New York, 2004, 250-251.

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