CHY 4U 2011: Introduction to West and the World

What will we study?

This course covers the span of history from 1500 to the present day, focusing on Europe and the Americas.  Because a highly detailed examination of five hundred years in a single course is impossible, we will study major events, key eras, significant social changes, and radical innovation.

Will there be theory?

Yes. If you want to play with the big kids next year, you better have some big ideas.  It would be even more beneficial if these ideas had a theoretical foundation.

Will there be blood?

Yes, there will; thankfully, it will be neither yours nor mine.  James Joyce may have been right when he said that history is a nightmare from which we cannot awake. Hobbes may also have been correct when he said that life is short, nasty, and brutish. Either way, the study of history often involves delving into the unpleasant side of human existence. Key components of this course include several revolutions and full-scale wars, so be prepared for the occasional discussion of bloody details.

Will there be Catholicity?

Sure. Besides discussing several Religious Orders, we will also closely examine the role religion played in European conflict. Even when we are not discussing faith explicitly, social justice and the value of human life will always be relevant.

How will this course prepare me for university?

Even if you never plan on taking history again (a little of part me died typing this), I still need to prepare you for university.  We will mimic the structure of a university class by doing the following:

  • readings will be posted a week in advance
  • we will have weekly tutorials on Fridays, run by you
  • several assignments you will complete reflect the sort of assignments you will be given next year

Projected Assignments for This Year

Historical Dialogue
WW I or II Poster
20th Century Test
Book analysis
Tutorial leading
Test: French Revolution
Podcasting the Industrial Revolution
Historical figure presentation (tied to book)
Culminating Activity: essay (1500 words)

Our First Focus: Working Backwards

History is usually taught chronologically, and for obvious reasons.  Tracing important events, trends, and changes in the order in which they occurred helps students develop an understanding of cause and effect relationships. Society, however, finds this difficult because our collective understanding of the past is limited. We forget events from ten years ago with startling ease; thus, when current events challenge, shock, or even harm us, we have difficulty seeing the historical factors that made such alarming events possible.  We are left with trite and simplistic explanations that do more harm than good.

Our First Goal:  To Reach Accurate Conclusions Based on Research Instead of Assumptions

Over the next two days, we will attempt to trace the factors that shape the current role the United States plays in the Middle East. You will be divided into pairs and assigned a small sub-topic; you will present your findings to the class, and we will attempt to draw connections between all of the class work.

First, however, I need you to read a few pages about traffic. Yes, traffic. These pages will help you understand how everyone, including “experts”, can make costly assumptions. Please go to this link, and read pages 71-74. Begin reading at the paragraph starting with Engineering.


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