Seeing it all come together...
Back in March of 2021, I wrote a blog post about creating a Thematic World History class. I'm now on the other side of that class. I created it, I taught it, and we are done. I was lucky to get to experience it as both an online class via Outschool, and with my in-person students at Logic Creative Labs.
Reflecting on the class, I can say that it was even more successful than I hoped. The use of current events drew students in, and gave me the chance to address issues that are not often covered in traditional world history classes. I was able to connect the Arab Spring (which most students did not know about) to revolutions in Haiti or Egypt. How were they similar? How different? Does violence have to occur for a revolution to be successful? We discussed the role that gender has played in history in different parts of the world, during different eras. That gave us the opportunity to discuss the place that nonbinary and gender nonconforming people have played in history, especially before European colonization. For some of my LGBTQ students, that was the first time that they got to actually see themselves in history. We talked about the war in Ukraine, and we considered all of the reasons that humans have fought each other. My hope is that this group of students now sees our current world as part of the ribbon of history.
To close out the in-person class, I had them reach an agreement on an overarching statement. They chose, "Humans Make." We used that statement as the background for a large piece of art that they worked together to create. One student is a talented graffiti artist, so she guided the initial painting. Together, they used words, phrases, pictures, and drawings to illustrate the phrase. There are so many ways to finish the sentence, and they hit on all of the options. There is good and bad. There is triumph and defeat. There is love and hate. There is invention and destruction. But what really got me was when one student pointed out that they had to include the phrase, "we are human." The picture here is of their final creation. I just need to seal it, and it will hang at Logic Creative Labs for everyone to see.
I am so proud of their art. But I am equally proud of how well they brought it all together. Humans are complex creatures, and we act for all manner of reasons. And sometimes we seem to act for no reason at all. But if they can see themselves in the ribbon of history, and they can take what they have learned and apply it to other studies and situations, then we have definitely taken a step forward.