We are starting our first unit by focusing on 9/11, terrorism, and current developments regarding the U.S.'s war on terrorism. In some ways it seems cliche to start off by talking about the events of 9/11 but given its huge impact on American foreign and domestic policy I feel that it is important for students who were born shortly before or shortly after the 9/11 attacks to understand the changes in how state and non-state actors influence each other in the modern world.
It should be noted that this unit will focus on radical Islamic terrorism because too often citizens in the U.S. conflate all Muslims with being terrorists. Terrorism is not unique to Islam and violence has/is engaged by by other religions such as Hindu Nationalists, fundamentalist Christians, ultra-orthodox Jews, and Buddhists particularly in SE Asia. Between this unit on terrorism and our upcoming unit on religions of the world, it is my goal that students begin to make aware of the distinction between individuals who are Muslims through faith and Islamic organizations with whom the U.S. government is wagging its "war on terrorism."
Students will be interviewing and collecting oral histories from at least two different people to learn about their personal experiences with the terrorist attacks on 9/11. In class we will be watching the documentary 9/11 made by the film makers Jules & Gedeon Naudet and James Hanlon. The film makers were originally making a documentary about the life of a NYC rookie fire fighter and their subject's firehouse happened to one of the first firehouses called to respond to the airplane crash into Tower 1.
This film does contain some strong language and cursing from firefighters and New Yorkers as they watch and respond to the events occurring on September 11, 2001.
Due (Monday 9/14): Two oral histories regarding 9/11. Extra copies of the form can be downloaded below use only the first page. We will complete the second page in class on Monday (9/14).
History is more than just stories about people in funny hats in strangely named places. We study history because how we interpret the past (and the meaning we choose to give to certain events or people) often says a lot about who we are today and what we as a society have as shared goals. History is made by people like you, and without a solid understanding of the past, we will never be able to understand the context of the present, or predict our futures.
The title of this course is “Modern World History”, however, there is room for considerable debate about whose history to study, when exactly “modern” begins, and whether or not we are studying the whole world. For our approach to the course we will consider “modern” history to be the time when peoples’ ideas and their ability to put them into action trumped traditional power structures. We will spend our time studying the events, ideas, people, social systems, and geographies that have created our current world. The world changes quickly, the revolutions and conflicts in Tunisia, Syria, Ukraine, and Egypt may someday be viewed in the same way we view previous revolutions in Haiti, Russia, France, etc.
Our course will not be a chronological approach to world history. Instead, it will move fluidly across time, linking ideas, themes, and concepts from current or recent events, explaining historical context through history. There will be a strong emphasis on acquiring historical research skills, analytical thinking & writing skills, public presentation skills, computer skills, and cooperative problem solving skills that will help you be successful in this class, in your other courses, and prepare you for a lifetime of active civic engagement.