CHY 4U: Not All Mutations Result in Adamantium Claws (Though They Should)

We Are All Mutants, by Jim Sheely, via Flickr.

We Are All Mutants, by Jim Sheely, via Flickr.

Starting a history course with a Latin phrase seems appropriate. Latin itself is a perfect metaphor for the study of history: it is a thing of the past, yet its impact on our world–on the very way we think and communicate–is undeniable. It orders our world in ways that we can’t fully appreciate because, well, we are a part of that world.

This phrase, Omnia Mutantur, is particularly interesting in the context of this course. There are those who think history is the study of the immutable past, of things rooted and unchangeable (hmmm…mutantur…mutate…immutable). Yet, according to this phrase, everything changes, including our understanding of the past.

What does this have to do with you? Well, everything.

Besides being walking, talking evidence that everything changes, you are now in a course that has mutated in ways that, 10 years ago, would have been impossible. Last year, this course was called The West and the World, and focused on Europe’s role in the world from 1500 to the current era. Now, however, the course is World History Since 1500, which gives us a tremendous opportunity. Sure, we should examine key European experiences like the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, but we can also examine key people, events, and issues from around the globe.

The breakdown of assignments below should give you an overview of what you will do in the course:

  1. Historical Dialogue (Pair work: writing about historical events through the lens of historical schools)
  2. 16th-17th Century Social History Walkabout (what was it like to be an average person during a tumultuous time in particular place? Remember: this place can be anywhere in the world)
  3.  French Revolution Test
  4. 19th century Annotated Bibliography (this is essentially preparation for your culminating essay. It should have a thematic or conceptual connection to your Social History Walkabout)
  5. Podcasting the Industrial Revolution (potentially pair work)
  6. 20th Century Test
  7. Culminating Activity Essay (much of the research for this essay is completed through the assignments completed earlier in the course)
  8. Exam

For the rest of the day, we will dedicate ourselves to one big question (with many sub-questions): What is our world view?

  • how does the world work?
  • who is in charge?
  • what do we believe?
  • what is our role in the world?
  • are these things “universal” or specific to us? (another way: would people around the globe answer these questions in the same way?)
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