What to teach: a body of knowledge:
overview - chronological narrative - conceptual frameworks - thinking strategies

What to teach:
a chronological narrative

This is the first component of a world history and geography body of knowledge to be taught in school:
....... chronological narrative
....... conceptual frameworks
....... thinking strategies

What is a chronological narrative?

When people think back to their history classes in school, one of the first things likely to come to mind is a chronological narrative, the textbook. History textbooks are one type of historical narrative; there are others. Historical narratives may describe a single event such as the French Revolution, or they may tell the story of a larger span of time, say, the 3,000 years of ancient Egypt. A biography is an historical narrative of a single life.

The writing of narratives is what historians do; they take a jumble of information from different sources, sort it, shape it and give it meaning. As one scholar observed, "What we recognize as the Roman Empire was a series of disconnected experiences for the generations who made it up. It is we who give them coherence."1

A world history textbook is a chronological historical narrative that attempts to provide a broad overview of history typically beginning with the emergence of humans or the advent of civilization and ending at the present time. When the term "chronological narrative" is used here, it refers to this type of broad historical narrative. The notion that historical narratives have an important role to play in history education has been widely accepted for a long time. It is that super-narrative, the textbook, that gives educators a serious case of consternation.

World history textbooks have two major drawbacks: they obscure the story of history with mind-numbing detail, and they eat up the curriculum.

Textbooks are wretched

To the world history textbook falls the nearly impossible task of making coherent the entire sweep of human history. In an effort to meet this challenge, textbooks have grown to 1,000 or 1,200 pages covering hundreds of cultures delineated through a mind-numbing succession of facts. Leften S. Stavrianos has written that world history courses are now bloated to "the bursting point:"

Consider what we have done to our textbooks during the past half-century. First, we added chapters on economic and social and cultural developments for the sake of broader coverage. Then we added more chapters on the interwar years and on World War II and on postwar developments in order to bring the textbooks up to date. And now we are adding still more chapters on Africa, the Middle East, India, and China in an effort to attain global perspective. It is scarcely surprising that both courses and textbooks have become unmanageable."2

Geography textbooks may be even worse. Without an organizing chronological framework, they typically lurch from region to region and country to country dispensing an endless stream of disconnected and forgettable factoids about population, culture, history and economics.

From the field of cognitive psychology, professor Frank N. Dempster reports that "many texts are so packed with facts, names, and details that the real point of the lesson is often obscured."3 The professor's point is closely echoed by my students such as the ninth grader who wrote, "When reading out of a textbook you never know what the important parts are. There is so much information it's hard to tell."4

"Badly written, factually sloppy, supremely boring."

Complaints against textbooks are legion. When you and I were in school, students whined that history textbooks were boring, and they still are. Criticism has come more recently from people with PhDs behind their names, so the complaints are taken more seriously: "Badly written, factually sloppy, supremely boring," wrote one educator.5 "Cautiously written, inane...filled with a dull narrative of distilled historical judgments and conclusions," concluded another.6

A college textbook on language learning had this to say about history textbooks: "Numerous facts were presented with few, if any, explanations of how the facts connected."7 From the prestigious Bradley Commission on History in Schools comes this: "Much recent criticism of textbooks is well-founded. They are often overstuffed with facts, distracting features and irrelevant graphics, and they are rarely organized to clarify the larger themes and questions the Commission finds indispensable."8

Author and former high school teacher Alfie Kohn writes that textbooks "invariably include a little bit of everything and a thoughtful treatment of nothing. It can safely be said that any course consisting mostly of reading a textbook, chapter by chapter, is a course worth avoiding."9

If social studies textbooks are this bad, it would seem we have little choice but to reject them, and many teachers have done precisely that. Retreating from the hope of offering students a coherent overview of world history, these teachers have opted to examine discrete points in the historical record instead, an approach sometimes called "postholing." Broad coverage is abandoned in favor of digging more deeply into a limited selection of historical events in the hope that such case studies will provide an adequate flavor of the dynamics of history.

Postholing has much to recommend it. It eliminates the time pressure of trying to offer a comprehensive overview of history. It leaves more time in the curriculum to consider "larger themes and questions." It offers the potential to replace superficial coverage with deeper understandings. It provides more opportunities to involve students in engaging activities such as hands-on projects, simulations, films and thinking strategies. It is undoubtedly more fun than cracking the textbook.

But, we need textbooks

What is sacrificed when the historical overview is abandoned? Students are left without the historical sense that comes only from a familiarity with the broad sweep of history. Large gaps exist in a student's knowledge of the cultural markers that glue society together and provide a common basis of experience, understanding and communication. Without an "historical frame of reference," we will have lost, in the words of David Lowenthal, the optimism that history is assimilable,

"that the story of humanity had a length and a form within which one could find one's bearings. With no such prop, students today are wholly at sea. History has no shape, no pattern, no consensually fixed guideposts...Pasts scrutinized mainly in terms of fragmentary set topics cannot be viewed in their historical fullness, as many-sided, multifarious, often self-contradictory realms."10

In the absence of an historical overview, students forfeit the opportunity to revisit important themes at various points in the historical continuum, to see how the themes developed over time, to encounter them in different contexts and thereby gain a feel for how such knowledge may be transferable to life in the future. The National History Standards declare, "Chronological thinking is at the heart of historical reasoning. Without a clear sense of historical time - time past, present, and future - students are bound to see events as one great tangled mess."11

Denis Shemilt is an education administrator in Great Britain where postholing has largely supplanted the chronological overview in schools. Shemilt laments the absence of a broad perspective: "There is no evidence to suggest, let alone demonstrate, that by the end of compulsory education British adolescents use...broadly based narrative frameworks to structure their knowledge of the past or to relate that knowledge to the present." "Might it not be time," he asks, "to consider the possible benefits of history as a whole rather than of selected fragments?"12

Although the Bradley Commission soundly thumped overstuffed textbooks, it nonetheless noted that historical study "should cultivate the perspective arising from a chronological view of the past down to the present day."13 It's successor organization, the National Council for History Education, made a forceful plea for the use of chronological narratives in school:

"The National Council for History Education strongly recommends that a well-balanced, well-written survey be part of every student's materials for history courses from the 5th grade onward. It is by now a commonplace that teaching directly and exclusively from a textbook is insufficient. Other sources are indispensable. But it is equally clear - though not yet a commonplace - that an engaging chronological narrative history book provides students with a framework within which to place the particular questions, topics, episodes, and personalities that teachers choose to stress. It serves as a detailed timeline to carry with them. It guards against the disorientation and loss of continuity that can arise from over-use of 'postholing' and unconnected lesson units."14

"Teachers without textbooks are not happy campers."

There is another important and very practical reason why we need textbooks. Because world history is such a huge subject, and because teachers charged with teaching history frequently know so little about it, many teachers need the textbook as a crutch to get them through the course. Apparently, textbooks are a much-used crutch. "In fact, only 39 percent of the twelfth-grade students in the 1988 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) history assessment claimed to have read material from a source other than a textbook."15

When the textbook selection process was delayed for a time in the Oakland, California school district due to conflicts over content, teachers became restless. Curriculum specialist Shelly Weintraub learned the hard way that, "Teachers without textbooks are not happy campers."16

Dealing with the textbook dilemma

History teachers appear hoist upon the horns of a conundrum. It would seem that they and their students need a chronological narrative such as textbooks provide, but textbooks are unsuited to the task. Is there no solution to this dilemma? For advice, let us consult some usually reliable sources.

The 1988 Bradley Commission report suggested "rethinking" textbooks: "The amount of time required to achieve student engagement and genuine comprehension of significant issues will necessitate leaving out much that is 'covered' by the usual text."17

The editors of Knowing, Teaching, and Learning History published in 2000, agreed "we need...serious relief from overwhelming textbook coverage."18

"Some must be chosen and most left out."

Even the 1997 report of the National Council for History Education, which strongly defended textbook use, proposed that the "endless store of facts, dates, events, ideas, and personalities" be reduced to an "essential core...Some must be chosen and most left out."19

These three groups of distinguished educators leave little doubt that the chronological narrative needs to be severely pruned to an essential core of knowledge in order to leave time in the curriculum for study of significant themes and issues. What else should be done?

Researcher Avon Crismore compared history textbooks to other types of academic historical writing and found that textbooks usually eliminate "hedge" words found in other historical works, such as "may" or "might," "perhaps," "possibly," "seem," "appear" and "suggest." Hedge words reflect the reality that history is based on incomplete knowledge of the past, and that history often involves judgment and interpretation on the part of the historian.

Textbooks, however, are usually written as though they convey infallible knowledge, a situation that causes concern among history educators including Sam Wineburg who has observed, "Such writing may contribute to students' inability to move beyond the literal." Crismore's analysis suggests that textbooks "may contribute to the finding that students often equate knowing history with knowing the facts."20

The past, present and the future share a common characteristic: knowledge is always incomplete. If students gain experience in dealing with uncertainty while examining events of the past, they will be better equipped to deal with the uncertainties to be faced in the future. This task could be aided, rather than inhibited, by textbooks that did not conceal uncertainties in historical knowledge.

A more troubling concern may be that textbooks simply fail at their fundamental task of "historical explanation" because textbook information is frequently presented in a way that is not cognitively coherent to students. The National Research Council has noted, "History texts sometimes emphasize facts without providing support for understanding."21

Textbook passages may not include needed background information, or they may fail to link actions to their causes and effects. Two teams of researchers, Armbruster and Anderson and Isabel Beck and her colleagues, proposed rewriting history textbooks using, in Beck's words, "causal/explanatory linkages, or linkages that connect a cause to an event and an event to a consequence."22

The education literature is full of prescriptions for action. The actions are harder to find.

Thus, in the education literature we find prescriptions for modifying the chronological narrative in three ways to better facilitate teaching. While this list may not be complete, it provides a good beginning:

  • Rethink the textbook, reducing it to an essential core of significant information.
  • Stop concealing the reality that history involves incomplete knowledge of the past.
  • Provide background information about historical topics including the causes and consequences of events.

The education literature is full of prescriptions for actions that should be taken in order to improve education. The actions themselves are harder to find. Although other specimens may exist, I am aware of only one chronological narrative that attempts to incorporate the three prescriptions identified above. That narrative is the Student's Friend, which is available on this website. How does the Student's Friend address these three prescriptions?

Prescription #1: Reduce the textbook to an essential core of information.

Social anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss said, "a truly total history would confront (us) with chaos," so, it is necessary to "choose, sever and carve up...the past."23 At 52 pages, the Student's Friend has taken a cleaver to the content of thousand-page textbooks. Printed on 8-1/2" by 11" paper, the Student's Friend is equivalent to approximately 120 pages in a standard hard cover book or 150 pages in a textbook.

Could such a reduced chronological narrative include all the truly essential information? Difficult to say, since no two historians, geographers or teachers would likely agree on exactly what that core content should be. Indeed, even I don't agree, which is why I continue to revise the Student's Friend every year. As we shall see in a moment, trying to determine the specific historical content to be taught in school can be a highly contentious affair.

In general terms, it would seem that a satisfactory chronological narrative should provide the grist for considering important themes and cultural comparisons across time and geography. It should include many of the historical markers that give us a common language of cultural understanding, and it should provide some sense of the ebb and flow of history over time. Lord Acton, in his Lectures on Modern History published in 1906, suggested a world history in which the role of nations is subordinated "to a higher series, according to the time and degree in which they contribute to the common fortune of mankind."24 Above all, the factual content should support the important meaningful understandings that we wish students to learn.

The Student's Friend attempts to do these things, and it closely follows the Bradley Commission's recommended topics for courses in world history and Western civilization (more on this later). The Student's Friend integrates world history, Western Civilization and geography in a seamless narrative. In addition, the Student's Friend is available in several word processing formats, so teachers may download and modify this narrative to suit individual circumstances. Try doing that with a standard textbook.

Prescription #2: Stop concealing the reality that history involves incomplete knowledge of the past.

The Student's Friend makes it clear that historical knowledge is not certain and may involve interpretation. For example, the first page of the Student's Friend notes that "most astronomers agree that the universe probably began with an event similar to an explosion," and that the "Great Rift Valley might be the location where human life began." On the last page of the Student's Friend are observations that globalism "is drawing the world together in ways that we don't fully understand yet," and that "it has not been proven" that the burning of fossil fuels is the cause of global warming.

Between these pages, the Student's Friend notes that historians believe the Trojan War actually happened and was probably fought over control of the Aegean Sea, that Napoleon may have died from stomach cancer or arsenic poisoning,that the explosion of the battleship Maine was probably an accident, that many historians consider World War II to be a continuation of World War I, and that future historians may view the moon landing as one of the major turning points in history. (Italics added.)

The Student's Friend is a concrete attempt to rethink the textbook.

Prescription #3: Provide background information about historical topics including causes and consequences of events.

The Student's Friend typically couples events with major causes and consequences. For example, the Student's Friend notes that Ice Ages lowered the level of the oceans allowing hunter-gatherers to cross a land bridge, which resulted in the peopling of America ("or maybe they crossed by boat.") When farmers learned to build irrigation systems between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, settlements grew into cities that formed the world's first civilization. The Soviet Union's fear of invasion led to Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and the beginning of the Cold War. Gorbachev's reforms spun out of control resulting in the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and a "New World Order."

The Student's Friend also includes explanations of new and possibly unfamiliar terms. Some examples:

"Paleontologists are scientists who study the fossils of plants and animals. Fossils are the remains of living organisms in which the living tissue has slowly been replaced over time by stone-like material that preserves the form of the original organism."

"...people began domesticating wild animals (raising them.)"

"By combining the effective Greek infantry (foot soldiers) with cavalry (mounted soldiers)..."

"Terra-cotta is the brownish-orange pottery used today to make flower pots."

"Unfortunately for Galileo, Roman Catholic Church doctrine (rules and beliefs) supported the Earth-centered model of the universe. Because Galileo challenged this view, he was tried by the church for heresy (disagreeing with church doctrine)..."

"Delegates to the Congress of Vienna were members of the aristocracy (upper class)...

"The Industrial Revolution began in the late 1700s in Britain's textile (cloth) mills...

"Russia started mobilizing its forces (getting them ready for war)...

In modern times, most people killed in war had been combatants (military personnel.)"

"...it was a guerrilla war with no front lines and few large-scale battles..."

While the Student's Friend is far from a perfect document, it stands as a serious attempt to address the three textbook reform measures prescribed above. The Student's Friend has been tested in classrooms and received the endorsement of students and teachers. A high school boy wrote, "The Student's Friend is, by far, better than a textbook." A high school girl said, "The Student's Friend gives the important information that you need to know...I've learned more about history this year than any other year." (See: what teachers say about the Student's Friend.)

The History Wars:
National History Standards and battles over content

No discussion of the chronological narrative would be complete without considering the difficulty of deciding what historical content should be included; whose history gets taught? This academic question burst into the arena of public policy debate in 1994 when the National Center for History in the Schools, based at the University of California at Los Angeles, released a set of "National History Standards" that included standards in both American and world history.

Shortly thereafter, the United States Senate voted 99-1 to reject the standards. At issue were the American history standards that Senator Slade Gorton, a Republican from Washington state, termed "an ideologically driven anti-Western monument to politically correct caricature."25 Gorton and his Senate colleagues felt the standards slighted important figures in American history in favor of minority groups and women. George Washington wasn't even mentioned, they said.

"...those who wrote the standards were traitors; those who opposed them, racists."

Newspaper columnists, radio talk show hosts and the Secretary of Education took sides in the rancorous dispute that came to be known as the "History Wars." The architects of the standards responded to their critics with a 318-page rebuttal pointing out that more than 700 white males were mentioned in the standards, "many times the grand total of all women, African-Americans, Latins, and Indians individually named."26

Education researcher Sam Wineburg recalls, "In the barroom terms befitting such a brawl, those who wrote the standards were traitors; those who opposed them, racists."27 A set of revised standards was released in 1996, and the acrimony has since subsided. Still, those who would dare to specify the historical content to be taught in schools tread on treacherous ground, one reason why textbook publishers are loath to leave anything out.

When it comes to identifying the historical content to be taught in school, we have just a few sources of guidance. There are, of course, the textbooks, which are far too busy and inclusive to be of much use. There are the controversial National History Standards discussed above, which, unfortunately, suffer from the same affliction as textbooks. The World History Standards include 46 main content standards, 121 "standard components" and 631 "elaborated standards," plus six additional "Historical Thinking Standards" containing 34 subcategories. Here are a few of the elaborated world history standards:

"...the student is able to:
-Analyze the importance of agriculture, gold production, and the trans-Saharan caravan trade in the growth of the Mali and Songhay empires.

-Explain principal ideas of the Enlightenment, including rationalism, secularism, progress, toleration, empiricism, natural rights, contractual government, and new theories of education."

-Evaluate the interplay of indigenous Indian, Persian, and European influences in Mughal artistic, architectural, literary, and scientific achievements.

-Describe the institutions and economics of Ashanti, Dahomey, Benin, Lunda, and Kongo in the period of the Atlantic slave trade.

-Compare World Wars I and II in terms of the impact of industrial production, political goals, national mobilization, technological innovations, and scientific research on strategies, tactics, and levels of destruction.28

Mind you, these elaborated standards are not suggested as possible areas of student inquiry; they are identified as "what students should be able to do" to demonstrate their understanding of the standards. Presumably, students are expected to know all 631 elaborated standards and the lists of elements contained in each.

The project clearly got out of hand.

Reality check: although I have a bachelor's degree in history from a respectable university, my entire college course of study did not approach the volume of coverage and level of detail prescribed in these world history standards for secondary school students. Compare the laundry list of 838 various standards prescribed for students of world history with this recommendation from Peter N. Stearns regarding a world history survey course to be taught at the college level:

"...I admit that there are a few (genuinely few, no more than two or three a week) essentials that people operating in contemporary society 'ought' to know about world history: something of the nature of Confucianism and Islam, of slavery and its justifications, of the industrial revolution."29

The National History Standards document identifies an additional 551 various kinds of standards in American history. With so much historical content to cover, one wonders when students would find time in the curriculum to consider important historical themes and questions, much less to squeeze in a little study of math, science or English.

That's one problem. Another is the autocratic tone assumed by the standards document: "...our schools must teach a comprehensive history...students must develop competence in the following five types of historical thinking...students must address the economics of the interregional trading system......true historical understanding requires...reading such narratives requires..." and so on.30

Here, as in textbooks, an omniscient authority delivers the revealed truth, except that this authority comes off as arrogant as well as infallible. The National History Standards suffer from a grandiosity that may be a consequence of the multitude of contributors involved in the project, some 400 people from 33 organizations distributed among 20 boards, committees, panels, forums, task forces, and focus groups. While the National History Standards drew upon the good efforts of many good people - and the standards include a number of useful suggestions - the project clearly got out of hand.

Both the National History Standards and world history textbooks violate one of our three basic principles of education: that education be realistic in its expectations. The National History Standards bring to mind the remarks of Jacques Barzun delivered to a conference of educators in 1978:

"In the literature of Education, what is taught and the benefits that follow are always universal in scope; the authors acknowledge no limits; they will not tell the truth nor face simple facts...If you doubt my word, read your top-heavy curriculum plans, your twelve objectives and your twenty-three guidelines...we make wild claims and promises and forget to teach what is teachable...It is all Inflation. It inflates the plausible or possible into the miraculous."31

In my view, the National History Standards perform a considerable disservice to students and teachers. By emphasizing the acquisition of so much information, these standards virtually preclude the possibility of developing a coherent overview of history, a striking case of not seeing the forest for the trees. The time spent acquiring such a vast compendium of knowledge would virtually eliminate the possibility of investigating meaningful themes or engaging in thinking strategies.

A set of National Geography Standards was likewise released in 1994, and it too prescribes a warehouse full of requirements for students to master. Six "essential elements" balloon into 18 "standards" containing 124 "knowledge statements" and 426 "learning opportunities" totaling 716 requirements for students at the secondary level.32 Containing little content that would be considered controversial, the geography standards raised no storms of protest, and they have since exerted influence on the development of state geography standards and mainstream geography textbooks. To view the National Geography Standards for grades 9-12, click here.

In searching for practical suggestions about the content to be learned in world history and geography classrooms, we might look beyond the national history and geography standards to the standards developed by many of the 50 states. There may be gold to be mined here, but such an investigation is beyond the scope of the present inquiry. We shall turn instead to one final and well-respected source of guidance.

The Bradley Commission recommendations

Let's dial down our expectations a bit...dial back in time to six years before the National History Standards were released...and dial in seventeen respected educators, the twelve college professors and five school teachers who comprised the Bradley Commission on History in Schools. The Bradley Commission is cited frequently in the education literature and on this website because its work was seminal, and its report is a model of clear thinking and reasonableness. Sam Wineburg said it "launched the current reform movement in history education." He described it as, "a considerable effort by historians, professors of education, and high school teachers to sit down and ask tough questions about the school curriculum."33

Released in 1988, the Bradley Commission's report is titled Building a History Curriculum: Guidelines for Teaching History in Schools. It begins by sounding a note of alarm about "the inadequacy, both in quantity and quality, of the history taught in American classrooms." It goes on to make "recommendations" (as in one colleague to another) that historical knowledge be used to support the development of student "judgment and perspective," that facts and narrative "be selected and taught to illuminate the most significant questions and developments,"that historical study focus on "broad, significant themes and questions," and that students develop historical "habits of mind,"34

The Commission recommended a minimum two-year sequence of study that includes both world history and Western civilization because "world history is inadequate when it consists only of European history plus imperialism, just as it is inadequate when it slights European history itself."35

The Bradley Commission report offers thoughtful and realistic guidance.

Among the commission's recommendations were three sets of topics to be covered in courses in American history, world history, and Western civilization. Compared to the National History Standards' compendium of 838 various standards for students of world history, the Bradley Commission's list of twelve topics seems downright miserly. Even then, the commission sanctions flexibility: "The world history course should incorporate many of the following topics..." (italics added).36 It is worth noting that these suggested world history topics incorporate major themes from geography including human-environment interaction, movement, place and region.

The list of recommended topics for a Western civilization course also numbers twelve. These topics were developed before the end of the cold war and would probably be slightly different if written today. Still, the commission's scheme remains relevant. Writing in Education Week following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Diane Ravich recommended the Bradley Commission's report as a resource for teachers.37

The Bradley Commission's suggested topics in world history and Western civilization, reproduced below, are specific enough to provide genuine structure to the curriculum, but general enough to allow for adaptability. The content of the Student's Friend (the concise textbook alternative available on this website) is highly consistent with the Bradley Commission's recommended topics for both world history and Western civilization.

The Bradley Commission's recommended topics for the study of world history:

1. The evolution and distinctive characteristics of major Asian, African, and American pre-Colombian societies and cultures.

2. The connections among civilizations from earliest times, and the gradual growth of global interaction among the world's people, speeded and altered by changing means of transport and communication.

3. Major landmarks in the human use of the environment from Paleolithic hunters to the latest technologies. The agricultural transformation at the beginning and the industrial transformation in recent centuries.

4. The origins, central ideas, and influence of major religious and philosophical traditions, such as Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Christianity; and of major ideologies and revolutions such as the American, French, Russian, and Chinese.

5. Close study of one or two selected non-European societies, to achieve the interest and power of the good story that narrative provides.

6. Study of at least one society that can no longer be simply defined as "Western" or "Non-Western," such as in South and Central America.

7. Comparative history of selected themes, to demonstrate commonalities and differences not only between European and other societies, but among non-European societies themselves.

8. Comparative study of the art, literature, and thought of representative cultures and of the world's major civilizations.

9. Varying patterns of resistance to, or acceptance and adaptation of, industrialization and its accompanying effects, in representative European and non-European societies.

10. The adaption of both indigenous and foreign political ideas, and practices, in various societies.

11. The interplay of geography and local culture in the response of major societies to outside forces of all kinds.

12. Selected instances of historical success and failure, of amelioration and exploitation, of peace and violence, of wisdom and error, of freedom and tyranny. In sum, a global perspective on a shared humanity and the common human condition.

The Bradley Commission's recommended topics for the study of Western civilization:

1. The political, philosophical, and cultural legacies of ancient Greece and Rome.

2. Origins, ideas, moral codes, and institutions of Judaism and of Christianity in all its forms.

3. Medieval society and institutions; relations with Islam, feudalism and the evolution of representative government.

4. The culture and ideas of the Renaissance and Reformation, European exploration, the origins of capitalism and colonization.

5. The English Revolution, its ideas, and the practices of parliamentary government, at home and in the colonies.

6. The culture and ideas of the Enlightenment, comprising the scientific revolution of the 17th century and the intellectual revolution of the 18th.

7. The American and French Revolutions, their sources, results, and world influence.

8. The Industrial Revolution and its social consequences, its impact on politics and culture.

9. The European ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries and their global influence: liberalism, republicanism, social democracy, Marxism, nationalism, Communism, Fascism, Nazism.

10. The new nineteenth century imperialism, ultimate decolonization, and the consequences of both for colonizers and colonized.

11. The two world wars, their origins and effects, and their global aftermath and significance.

12. The making of the European community of nations; new approaches to cooperation and interdependence.37

March, 2002

More about teaching history:

The Bradley Commission report and the publication Building a World History Curriculum are available from the National Council for History Education at 440-835-1776. NCHE's web address is http://www.history.org/nche.

The following publications are available online:

The Student's Friend

"Exposing Our Students to Less Should Help Them Learn More," by Frank Dempster

National Geography Standards

National Standards for History, National Center for History in the Schools

The following books cited in this article are available from the studentsfriend.com online store.

Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning, by Jaques Barzun

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts by Sam Wineburg

Teaching World History: A Resource Book, by Heidi Roupp


1. Leff, Gordon, as quoted in Husbands, Chris, What is History Teaching?, Open University Press, 1996

2. Stavrianos, Leften S., "A Global Perspective in the Organization of World History," in Roupp, Heidi, editor, Teaching World History: A Resource Book, M.E. Sharpe, 1997

3. Dempster, Frank N.,"Exposing our students to less should help them learn more." Phi Delta Kappan, February, 1993

4. A student of World History and Geography 1, Mancos High School, Fall, 2001.

5. Lynn, David H. quoted in Barzun, Jacques, Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning, The University of Chicago Press, 1991

6. Krug, Mark M., History & the Social Sciences, Blaisdell, 1967

7. Wallach, Geraldine P., and Butler, Katharine G., eds., Language Learning Disabilities in School-age Children and Adolescents, Macmillan, 1994

8. Bradley Commission on History in Schools, Building a History Curriculum: Guidelines for Teaching History in Schools, National Council for History Education,1988

9. Kohn, Alfie, The Schools Our Children Deserve, Houghton Mifflin, 1999

10. Lowenthal, David, "Dilemmas and Delights of Learning History," in Stearns, Peter N., et all, editors, Knowing, Teaching & Learning History, New York University Press, 2000

11. National Standards for History, Basic Edition, National Center for History in the Schools, 1996

12. Shemilt, Denis, "The Caliph's Coin: The Currency of Narrative Frameworks in History Teaching," in Stearns, Knowing, Teaching & Learning History

13. Bradley Commission on History in Schools, Building a History Curriculum: Guidelines for Teaching History in Schools, National Council for History Education,1988

14. Building a World History Curriculum, National Council for History Education, 1997

15. Britt, Perfetti, Van Dyke, and Gabrys, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," in Stearns, Knowing, Teaching & Learning History, New York University Press, 2000

16. Weintraub, Shelly, "What's This New Crap? What's Wrong with the Old Crap? Changing History Teaching in Oakland, California," in Stearns, Knowing, Teaching & Learning History

17. Bradley Commission on History in Schools, Building a History Curriculum: Guidelines for Teaching History in Schools, National Council for History Education,1988

18. Stearns, Peter N., et all, editors, Knowing, Teaching & Learning History, New York University Press, 2000

19. Building a World History Curriculum, National Council for History Education, 1997

20. Wineburg, Sam, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, Temple University Press, 2001

21. Bransford, John D., Brown, Ann l., and Cocking, Rodney R., eds, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, National Research Council, 1999

22. Wineburg, Sam, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, Temple University Press, 2001.

23. Claude Levi-Strauss is quoted in: Southgate, Beverly, Why Bother with History?, Pearson Education, 2000

24. Lord Acton is quoted in Krug, Mark M., History & the Social Sciences, Blaisdell, 1967

25. Wineburg, Sam, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, Temple University Press, 2001.

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid.

28. National Standards for History, Basic Edition, National Center for History in the Schools, 1996

29. Stearns, Peter N., "Getting Specific about Training in Historical Analysis," Knowing, Teaching & Learning History, New York University Press, 2000

30. National Standards for History, Basic Edition, National Center for History in the Schools, 1996

31. Barzun, Jacques, Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning, The University of Chicago Press, 1991

32. Geography for Life: National Geography Standards, Geography Education Standards Project, 1994

33. Wineburg, Sam, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, Temple University Press, 2001

34. Bradley Commission on History in Schools, Building a History Curriculum: Guidelines for Teaching History in Schools, National Council for History Education,1988

35. Ibid.

36. Ibid.

37. Ravich, Diane, "History Education, Now More Than Ever," reprinted in History Matters, National Council for History Education, November, 2001.

38. Bradley Commission on History in Schools, Building a History Curriculum: Guidelines for Teaching History in Schools, National Council for History Education, 1988

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