Friday, March 8, 2013

Why World History can be Overwelming

What do world history teachers teach? Well, they teach all history except U.S. History. That includes: The Maya, The Aztecs, Islamic Empires, The Chinese Dynasties, Russia, North Africa, African Empires, East Africa, Mesopotamia, the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, the Reformation and Ancient Egypt. Note, I haven't mentioned topics like the World Wars, Cold War, Age of Revolutions, Age of Exploration, Rome, Greece, the Byzantine Empire, rise of Christendom and rise of Islam. These are also a part of World History. Oh don't forget key figures like Genghis Khan, Qin Shi Huangdi, Menelik, Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, Peter the Great, Elizabeth I, Napoleon, Plato and Aristotle. Those are also a part of world history. Yes, you could spend the rest of your life studying just one of these topics. Furthermore, this just a sampling of what includes world history. World history is an overwhelming topic to teach. 

It's a lot of fun teaching world history because there are so many interesting events, people, places and ideas to explore. On the other hand, it's overwhelming to decide what to cut out. For instance, I never talked about ancient Egypt in my world history class this year. There simply wasn't enough time. What makes this more frustrating is that there is no universal method to figuring out what is "important" history and what is not. 

A great example of this is the responses of historians, writers and movie directors response to the following question "what is the most important day in history?" All their answers were different. The diversity of these responses shows that it's a hard task figuring out what is important in history and what is not. We can't even decide what is the most important. 

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