Teaching World History in Your Own Backyard: A Template for Using Local Resources to Teach Global Themes

Sunday, January 6, 2019: 11:00 AM
Stevens C-5 (Hilton Chicago)
Marc Jason Gilbert, Hawai'i Pacific University

The premise of Teaching World History in Your Own Backyard is that since human societies build upon/influence each other through such global patterns as movement (migration, transmission of disease, empire-building), conflict, shared environment, economic and cultural exchange (trade, technology, the arts), climatic change, and all originate and currently seem to be culminating in increasing globalization (since the first humans left Africa on a journey that populated the entire globe), why would world history not be found in your own backyard? One of the most valuable aspects of teaching outside the classroom is that it generates a sense of excitement and curiosity that is difficult to achieve inside a classroom setting. Students are offered the chance to discover not only the people who lived there, but the events that occurred there. A local Buddhist Temple or the birthplace of a pioneer environmentalist might be easily over looked at first, but such treasures are what make a state or community special. If we take our time we often find that such sites offer experiences and information that make the past come to life. Students become historians by studying primary sources, historical and contemporary photographs, maps, and other documents. Students should be actively examining places to gather information and to piece together facts until final they get "the big picture” and bridge the past to the present. Teaching History in Your Own Backyard is a methodology easily applied by local instructors, many of whom already incorporate visits to sites in local communities, but which provides a template for the creation of almost limitless local/global examples that can be employed with minimal effort and red tape, and can be replicated via “virtual visits” for educational environments that preclude physical visits.

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