World History Curriculum
In both of my teaching positions, I have taught a course that covers World History from the 1500s to the 20th century. It is impossible to truly study 500 years in two semesters. In every year teaching this course, units had to be cut or merged to save time. When I began planning my world history course last year, I decided to approach the content regionally and thematically, rather than chronologically. Instead of starting in 1500 and jumping from region to region, I started the year with an in-depth study of Chinese history from 1500 to 1989. Once students achieve “expert” understanding of China, we move on to Japan from 1603 to 1960. We study India, Central Africa, and the Middle East in much the same way. The last third of the year is spent studying European history in that same time period.
I have found this change helpful because it first ensures that we will give non-European history the attention it deserves. Rutgers Prep has a large international student population and this change makes the curriculum more accessible. It also allows students to see recurring themes in varying regions. By teaching this way, students can see how the Boxers are similar to the Sepoys and why the Ottomans were able to maintain an empire where the British couldn’t. Finally, the information we study in the beginning of the year is reinforced in the second part, when students relearn the events from the European perspective.