This week we had to read The Human Web: a Bird’s-eye View of World History and two articles that discuss this book. The first thing I usually do before I do any of the readings is think about what the book may be about based simply on the title and subtitle. Based on this I guessed that this book would look at human history and all of the connections, and I also felt like it would be a brief overview of history since it is a Bird’s eye view. This was a fairly accurate assumption.
The Introduction really struck me as fascinating and quickly drew me in to the book. It says “a web, as we see it, is a set of connections that link people to one another” (3). It goes on to describe the many connections people make in their lives. The intro then describes how webs relate to human history, and how connections link people together. The webs of history link people to one another and have affected the development of history and peoples actions. Each chapter of the book looks at the many webs of human history.
As much as I enjoyed this particular book, it was actually one of the articles that stuck out to me and made me think the most this week. The article by Donald Yerxa was “An Interview with J.R. McNeill and William H. McNeill.” The interview has them discuss their opinions about world history and how world history is taught. As a future teacher, when I do the readings each week my instinct is always to link them to education, and how I can incorporate the ideas into my future classroom.
In Virginia, World History is taught in two parts in 9th and 10th grade. One quote that particularly struck me from this interview is that “I suddenly realized that the history I had been taught had been confined to ancient Greece and Rome and the Western world, and the rest of the world only joined history when the Europeans conquered it.” Thinking back this is how I really remember learning world history in school. I think it is still taught this way much of the time today. As much as we try to diversify history and not teach it in a Western-centric view. It is still taught this way a lot of the time.
Maybe the concept of history as a web could contribute to the way we teach history. Looking at the links and connections in world history could be a really innovate and effective way to teach world history. Trying to move away from a strictly Western view in World History is going to be important in the coming years.
From this class, I have seen a lot of things that can improve the way history is taught. I am a big believer in using multiple perspectives when teaching history, and trying to diversify it as much as possible particularly world history. One of my goals is to use some of the ideas I have learned in this class in my classroom one day. Teaching history as a web could be really effective and engage students in a new and different way.