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(BBC)   10 things people want to see in world history books but are usually missing. And no, "a centerfold" did not make the list   (bbc.co.uk) divider line 65
    More: Interesting, Andrew Marr, University of Manitoba, German states, crop yields, chemical weapons, optics, human history, Charlemagne  
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6095 clicks; posted to Geek » on 25 Sep 2012 at 10:55 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-09-25 04:26:06 PM  
On a related note, how about a reality show where younger guys who look like Michael Wood and Neal Oliver compete in pubs and clubs with Old Anglo-Saxon and Scots Gaelic to see which scores more poonany?
 
2012-09-25 07:16:17 PM  

limeyfellow: Jim_Callahan: Simon Bolivar, the code of Hummarabi, and the Seven Years' War aren't in British history texts?

Huh, wasn't expecting to feel superior to another country on primary education grounds, ever.

(The other ones are good suggestions, though. Especially Haber-Bosch Synthesis and the rise of Optics, tech has shaped the world a lot more than politics alone has and that needs to be impressed upon students if you want them to be remotely useful later in life.)

It depends on the year. British history education tends to follow themes for a semester where it cover a variety of subjects in more detail than US history lessons tend to teach. They change the major areas from time to time. Of course it not really until you get to an older age and start using original sources, and analysis, instead of following the text of one textbook you really get a decent understanding.

The British textbooks also didn't cut out Thomas Jefferson to fit in room about how Newt Gingrich saved the world either. The horror.


The teaching also covers the subject into a lot of depth and has a lot of history to cover. The big chunks are Roman Britain, early Middle Ages, Tudor, industrial revolution and the Victorian era and the thirties through to the sixties. Each of those blocks covers enough to match the entire history of the US when you add in the Empire or Europe. That's without the dark ages, late Middle Ages, the civil war and the restoration.

2000 years of history and not enough time to teach it.
 
2012-09-25 09:19:31 PM  
Or, you could just hand out free copies of Paradox Interactive games and tell the kids to plug away.
 
2012-09-25 10:51:49 PM  
I'm guessing that most people who were "never taught" these pretty standard history lessons just weren't paying attention those days.
 
2012-09-25 11:21:54 PM  

Seth'n'Spectrum: Or, you could just hand out free copies of Paradox Interactive games and tell the kids to plug away.


I destroyed geographic tests, including a school-wide geography competition, thanks in no small part to the DOS game Shadow President. Another program (not exactly a game) called Explorers of the New World taught me at least as much about the age of exploration as school ever did.

Rome: Total War with the Europa Barbarorum mod is like a fun-as-hell history book if you read about all the historical events when those windows pop up.

Hell, I'd guess a lot of kids born slightly after me learned to read (or at least to read well) in order to play text-heavy video games, which is why my kid(s) won't get to play anything with extensive voice work until they're older :-)

/ Deus Ex boils down to a study in Aristotle's three forms of government.
 
2012-09-26 12:15:25 AM  

fallingcow: Rome: Total War with the Europa Barbarorum mod is like a fun-as-hell history book if you read about all the historical events when those windows pop up.


If you think the Total War series is informative, you'll be blown away by Europa Universalis or Crusdaer Kings.

/though without mods, you may end with some awkward "King of Alsace" moments.
 
2012-09-26 12:36:28 AM  

the money is in the banana stand: I graduated HS in 2002 and we effectively stopped right before the Vietnam War. Arguably the most important history, semi-current history is NOT taught because it is the last chapter or so in the textbook.


I went to school in the 60's and WWII was definitely included, which happened 30 years prior. You graduated in 2002 and Vietnam (which happened 30-35 years earlier) was NOT included.

It's not because it's the last chapter in the book. It's because we stopped being the good guys.
 
2012-09-26 12:52:29 AM  

BretMavrik: Many of those would be good additions, but aren't Hammurabi's Code and Simon Bolivar already standard fare in history courses? This is BBC, so maybe not in UK schools.

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: The one thing that history books don't do (and that James Burke did so well) is explain how all of history is connected. History, philosophy, literature, architecture, art, politics, music, religion, and science are all tied together and it often feels like they're all explored separately, instead of showing how one event flowed into another.

Ditto. Ever since I was turned on to Burke and van Doren in the mid 80s, I've thought that most high school courses could/should coordinate their curricula so that they're all teaching their subjects along the same timeline as the others. Start in 9th grade with basic science, etc., then beginning in in 10th grade you start with early human history and move through 11-12 coordinating the subjects you mention. It brings a lot more meaning and it's much easier to pick up the cycle of human advancement (scientific discovery leads to a philosophical change which leads to political change, rinse and repeat).

Barring that, if I were a history teacher I'd probably toss into the closet whatever textbooks they issued and go with something like:

Grade 9: Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything"
Grade 10: James Burke's "Connections" and "The Day the Universe Changed"
Grade 11: Stephen Ambrose's "Undaunted Courage" and Thomas Hughes' "American Genesis"
Grade 12: Daniel Yergin's "The Prize"


I'd throw excerpts from 1491 and 1493 by Charles C. Mann in there too around the senior year. Some of the agricultural stuff might bore them, but 1491 goes a long way in challenging misconceptions about native American societies and 1493 does an excellent job of examining roots of globalization, from the effect of Spanish Colonial (Bolivian) silver on the worldwide economy to the role new American crops played in the rise and fall of nations. They're both fascinating.
 
2012-09-26 01:13:04 AM  

MacWizard: the money is in the banana stand: I graduated HS in 2002 and we effectively stopped right before the Vietnam War. Arguably the most important history, semi-current history is NOT taught because it is the last chapter or so in the textbook.

I went to school in the 60's and WWII was definitely included, which happened 30 years prior. You graduated in 2002 and Vietnam (which happened 30-35 years earlier) was NOT included.

It's not because it's the last chapter in the book. It's because we stopped being the good guys.


Depends.. I graduated in 01. Had Nam, but also had textbooks in to the late 90s that had USSR on their "current" world map. Wonders of public education
 
2012-09-26 10:46:52 AM  

bhcompy: MacWizard: the money is in the banana stand: I graduated HS in 2002 and we effectively stopped right before the Vietnam War. Arguably the most important history, semi-current history is NOT taught because it is the last chapter or so in the textbook.

I went to school in the 60's and WWII was definitely included, which happened 30 years prior. You graduated in 2002 and Vietnam (which happened 30-35 years earlier) was NOT included.

It's not because it's the last chapter in the book. It's because we stopped being the good guys.

Depends.. I graduated in 01. Had Nam, but also had textbooks in to the late 90s that had USSR on their "current" world map. Wonders of public education


I did 20th Century World History in Grade 12 in Canada in 1998. Socials 9-11 focussed on Canadian history (Grade 8 covered the thousands of years in which there wasn't a Canada). The course ostensibly stopped in 1980 (the year I was born) because that's when the textbooks were printed. We spent a week on 1900-1914, maybe a lecture on WWI, three agonising months on the interwar period, a bare week on WWII (which was the sole reason my friends and I took the course - I got 100% on the multiple choice unit test the day before Christmas vacation), and the last three weeks on 1950 - 1980. I don't know if that was standard at the time or if our teacher just really really liked the Depression.
 
2012-09-26 07:36:02 PM  

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: The one thing that history books don't do (and that James Burke did so well) is explain how all of history is connected. History, philosophy, literature, architecture, art, politics, music, religion, and science are all tied together and it often feels like they're all explored separately, instead of showing how one event flowed into another.


James Burke is one of my personal heroes. I'm reading The Knowledge Web right now. Absoulely brilliant man. Anyone who has not seen Connections almost certainly does not understand how history really works.
 
2012-09-26 07:39:16 PM  

brigid_fitch: I'm happy to see Hammurambi's Code on the list. If nothing else, maybe it'll shut up the farking Bible-thumpers who think our laws are based on the 10 Commandments. So few people have even heard of it, let alone understand its significance.


I was actually surprised to see it, since at least in my own experience, it's a common reference. I had no idea it might be obscure to anyone. I don't think I know anyone who didn't hear about it at some point. It's well known enough, at least, that Tom Weller lampooned it in his excellent Cvltvre Made Stupid. ("No running by the pool." - "If a man seeketh to park his ox, and another man rusheth to take his space, the aggrieved man may let the air out of the other man's ox." - and so on)
 
2012-09-26 07:45:19 PM  

Smackledorfer: brigid_fitch: I'm happy to see Hammurambi's Code on the list. If nothing else, maybe it'll shut up the farking Bible-thumpers who think our laws are based on the 10 Commandments. So few people have even heard of it, let alone understand its significance.

The bible was written by god and hammurabi's code is based on it.

That settles that.


Well, except for the little issue of dates:

- Ten Commandments: c. 1446 BCE (supposedly)
- Code of Hammurabi: c. 1772 BCE

Hammurabi died c. 1750 BCE, three hundred years before scholars' best guess on the date that Moses would have received the tablets. Assuming that even happened.

Yes, I know it's a joke. But it's one unfornately hamped by the wet blanket of available facts.
 
2012-09-26 08:01:08 PM  

LazarusLong42: ApatheticMonkey: Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: The one thing that history books don't do (and that James Burke did so well) is explain how all of history is connected. History, philosophy, literature, architecture, art, politics, music, religion, and science are all tied together and it often feels like they're all explored separately, instead of showing how one event flowed into another.

James Burke's Connections! I loved that show! For those who haven't watched it, it's a little dated, but definitely worth watching if you can get your hands on a copy of the series.

At least some of it is on Netflix.

Which means I totally have to watch it now!


All of it's available online, if you look for it. Someone posted a link to the whole series here awhile back. It's also all on YouTube, again if you look around, but the dedicated link was much better.

There are three Connections series (Connections, Connections 2, Connections 3). I can't stress enough how worthwhile it is to watch them all in order, both internally and in respect to each other. Each series is partly serialised, with references in later episodes to things from earlier ones. Meanwhile, Burke's style requires a little effort from the viewer, and with each successive series the pace gets faster, so it helps to have seen the earlier ones. A companion series, based on the book of the same title, is The Day the Universe Changed. While Connections focuses on the complex and highly interactive cause-and-effect aspects of the history of science and technology, TDTUC focuses on the cultural and philosphical consequences of those changes, including how they affect later change. It's all very heady stuff. I've gone through it all many times for many years, and I'm still learning from it.

For those of you who've never seen it, Burke is also very engaging and has a great sense of humour. Some bits are very subtle, but very rewarding if you catch them. (For example, at the end of the very first episode of the first series, "The Trigger Effect," he explains that people don't really know how to survive without civilisation anymore, even how to hitch up the first invention of civilisation, the plow. As he's talking, a careful viewer will note that he has hitched it up backwards.)

The other thing newcomers should know, it if helps to encourage you to check it out, is that all this is done very demonstratively. It's not just a guy talking. He goes to the places where things happened, and directly shows you what he's talking about. Modern-day elements are shown as they really are, and historical elements are reproduced with excruciating precision. (Again, sometimes with humourous bits added.)
 
2012-09-26 08:02:10 PM  

Egoy3k: theorellior: The headline raises a good question: which historical figure would we want to see a centerfold of?

Cathrine the great, I hear she was pretty kinky.


That's apparently apochryphal, the stuff of vicious rumours spread by her political enemies. At least according to my historian mother.
 
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