This course focuses on how cultures affect one another and how the spreading of ideas influences the development of culture. We will examine the nature of cause and effect in history and the advantages and challenges associated with increased connectivity within the world. We will begin by building a true understanding of our own culture(s) as a way to gather insight and perspective. From here, the course will focus on four slices of history that will illustrate the dynamics of how cultures influence those they come in contact with.
Fall, Trimester 1:
Lenses through which to view the world
In the first trimester of seventh-grade history, students are introduced to the “Four Worlds”: political, economic, social, and cultural, each having its own set of actors, each with various sources of power and influence, each with different and often conflicting priorities. We began with the “four worlds of me,” an activity designed to help students understand how they are part of each world, how they are affected by conditions in each, and how they are able to influence conditions in each. Students also read the “Nacirema” article and discussed cultural assumptions and the concept of cultural distance. Students also discuss what professional historians actually do.
China and the Mongol Empire
We will begin our exploration of how the dissemination of information affects the world by studying the culture of ancient China and how its inventions of the compass, gunpowder, paper, and movable type helped shape the world around us. We will then examine how the Pax Mongolica created safety and stability along the Silk Road, in turn leading to increased trade and communication between the East and West.
Winter, Trimester 2:
Islam and the Mali Empire
Next, we will look at how Islam embraced trade and built upon the knowledge of both east and west. Students will explore the geography of the Middle East and North and West Africa and study the origins, expansion, and contributions of Islam (such as an improved compass) as well as the trade and wealth of the Mali Empire. Students will also examine the impact the emergence of Islam had on the medieval world.
Age of Exploration (Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia)
After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, Europeans had to look for other passages to ports in the East. Students will explore the trade and economic factors that led European governments to seek new trade routes to Asia, and how this process came to shape the world as we currently know it. Through this unit, students will begin to understand basic economic fundamentals and the social and cultural impacts of exploration in Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asia.
Spring, Trimester 3:
Printing, Questioning, and Concluding
Students will analyze the impact of the printing press on Europe and explore the impact of the paper and movable print, first developed in China. As we study the Protestant Reformation, we will see how the ability to print quickly, cheaply, and in multiple languages sparked curiosity in Europe, leading to the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment and shaping the world of today.
Cultural Heritage ProjectIn this unit, each student conducts research, writes, and creates a display about her family heritage and/or the history of her community. The project is both a culmination of our study of cultures from around the world and a celebration of the rich cultural diversity and experiences in our community. The project will take place over a seven-week period, with students given time to work on their research and writing projects in class.