Saturday, May 15, 2004

Teaching about the Voyages of Columbus

Teaching about the Voyages of Columbus. This is an interesting article which details the history of the Columbus voyages of discovery. It also includes tips on teaching this in the classroom.

From the site:

The voyage of Columbus in 1492 is a turning point in world history. After 1492, peoples and civilizations of long-separated regions began to develop connections that have led to the incipient global community of the 1990s. It is their global significance that justifies a prominent place in today's school curriculum for the four voyages of Columbus to the Western Hemisphere, not the mere fact of their 500th anniversary in 1992 and thereafter. Educators, therefore, should use the Columbian Quincentenary as a ripe time to renew and reform teaching and learning about these events of long ago that still affect most peoples and places of our world today.


The far-reaching and transforming interactions of peoples in the Western and Eastern Hemispheres, which occurred after 1492, are known today as the "Columbian Exchange," the title of a seminal book by Alfred W. Crosby.

Crosby has provided an ecological perspective on the conditions and consequences of the Columbian voyages that should be included in the school curriculum. He has examined how plants, pathogens, and animals moved from one hemisphere to the other and changed natural environments and cultures. He has described the devastating effects of Eastern Hemisphere microbes on Western Hemisphere peoples and the subsequent shifts in the genetic composition of populations in the Americas. However, Crosby has emphasized that the "Columbian Exchange" has not been one-sided. Certainly European and African plants, animals, goods, and ideas have affected the Amerindians. But peoples of the Western Hemisphere have influenced the Europeans, Africans, and Asians too, especially in their cultivation of crops and preparation of foods.

Elementary and secondary school teachers should use Crosby's concept of the "Columbian Exchange" to help their students acquire an ecological perspective on world history. Thus, they will learn how cultural diffusion and social changes have shaped our modern world. And they will understand Crosby's most important message: Once begun, the "Columbian Exchange" cannot be reversed. The Columbian voyages and the subsequent Age of Exploration and Discovery have forged inseparable bonds between once separated peoples and civilizations, and there is no turning back.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Roman History, Coins, and Technology Back Pages

Roman History, Coins, and Technology Back Pages Articles on a wide range of topics including emperors, women, events, engineers, the army, art, government, social classes, food, cities, the economy, trade, transport and coins, hosted by San José State University. Includes a bibliography and a glossary.

From the site:

At the right is an image of a Roman centurio (often called a centurion in Modern English) training the new recruits of one of Rome's many legions in the gladius pit. It was discipline and drill that made the Roman legions a far superior fighting force to any army that another nation or kingdom could put into the field. The young recruit, not visible here but who is actually standing to the left of the centurio, is being required to wield a GLADIVS (Roman short sword of Spanish origin) and CLIPEVS (small round shield) of twice the regulation weight as the training officer tries to get under his guard with a blunt but forcefully delivered stick.

How did we get such a good color photograph of a two thousand year old warrior, you may ask. Well, your Humble Web Author has shared many a glass of watered vinegar with this man. We both serve in the Tenth Roman Legion, only recently mustered once again after about 1700 years! The Latin name for our unit is LEGIO X FRETENSIS, Fourth Cohort, and our standards proudly carry our legion's name in its abbreviated form, LEGIO X FRET COH IV. For these are modern - day reenactors, those practitioners of living history. In keeping with Your Humble Author's committment to the sixth and seventh graders of this world, he has gone and joined up, to, as the old song says to "'enlist, Bonnie Laddie, and come awagh!" In his enthusiasm to present as accurate, lifelike, and interesting a picture of Roman history to his esteemed readership, he has committed himself to hauling his aged and corpulent carcass over hill and dale, wearing the regulation HAMATA, the thirty to forty pounds of Roman chain mail. He carries the PILVM, and wields the GLADIVS as well as an old veteran of many wounds can. We can relate happily that the kids, their parents, and their teachers love it when we show up at a public event!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Teaching the Declaration of Independence

Teaching the Declaration of Independence. This is a decent essay on the history of the Declaration of Independence and ways to teach about it.

From the site:

The Declaration of Independence is the founding document of the United States of America. It is part of the social studies core curriculum in schools throughout the United States. Students, by the time they graduate from high school, are expected to know the main ideas in the Declaration of Independence and their significance in the American heritage. This Digest discusses (1) the origins of the Declaration of Independence, (2) the structure and key ideas of the document, (3) how to teach the document, and (4) World Wide Web sites on the document for teachers and learners.


During June and July of 1776, the main question facing the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia revolved around independence: should the American colonies represented at this Congress declare their separation and freedom from the United Kingdom of Great Britain? After intense debate, the delegates voted on July 2, 1776 in favor of Richard Henry Lee's resolution for independence. On July 4, the Congress discussed and approved, with a few changes, the formal Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson on behalf of a five-person committee appointed by Congress (Maier 1997; McClellan 1989).

During July and August 1776, the Declaration of Independence was printed and distributed throughout the newly proclaimed United States of America. Americans recognized immediately that this document expressed widely held ideas about the proper purposes of government and the rights of individuals. George Mason expressed the same ideas about government and rights in similar words in Articles I-III of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which was drafted and approved a few weeks before the Declaration of Independence. Many years later Jefferson acknowledged that the Declaration of Independence was "intended to be an expression of the American mind" and not an original or innovative statement (Schechter 1990, 138-145; Spalding 2002, 79).

Sunday, May 09, 2004

History of the Hellenistic and Roman World

History of the Hellenistic and Roman World Extensive site dedicated to ancient Rome. Biographies on emperors, timelines, interactive maps, and sections on Roman society and the military.

From the site:

On the following pages, you will find a number of articles describing various events and personalities of the Hellenistic and Roman world in the time period 300 BCE to 1 CE. I have been very pleased by the great popularity of the (former) Geocities website which now - for the second time - has caused me to move the website to a new domain. With any luck, this will be the last time I will need to do so. I hope this website will be able to continue to serve, inspire and help people looking for information about the Hellenistic and Roman worlds for many years to come.