IBMYP World History and United States Government - Course Story
Each day, students stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States and to “the republic for which it stands.” What then is a republic? How and why did the United States develop into a republic? Further, what is the role of the citizen that has pledged his or her allegiance? These questions are among the ties that bind together your studies in World History and Government this year.
Why do people study history and government? That question in many ways is both very simple and yet very complex. Among the reasons that we study history is that history is essential to individuals – the remembrances of family and friends, a story about a vacation, how the time you broke your arm riding a bike led to a discovery, the smells and sounds of the first time you went to a circus, the first day of school; these all help to define us as individuals and help to tell our story. Societies too have a story, and often times that story is one that has changed over time to lead us to the present. History does NOT teach us to avoid the mistakes of the past – if that were the case we would live in a utopian world. History may help us look to the future, but in reality, history helps us to understand the present. The term history comes from the ancient Greek word historia meaning inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation. So it is with your IBMYP World History (and IBMYP Government) class. We seek to learn about the past and the present by asking thoughtful questions, and by suggesting educated answers to those questions. The study of World History and Government are NOT about memorizing a series of dates, people and places (though knowledge of those dates certainly will go a long way to produce educated answers). Good historians and political scientists read a variety of sources (primary and secondary), ask questions of the sources including the purpose and value of the source, write persuasively to suggest answers, and are thinking creatively and critically about both the past and the present.
The fundamental question that will guide our inquiry in the course is:
How has democratic government developed and changed over time?
That question will be addressed in a number of ways through the courses, by asking further questions including: Why do we study history and what can history teach us? How did military and political power enhance each other? How do important ideas and beliefs change over time, and how do they affect history and the 21st Century? What circumstances make revolution possible? Why are revolutions difficult to sustain? How do our suspicions drive our beliefs and actions? Are people really “capable of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political institutions on accident and force?” (Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1) How does republican government function? What is the nature of political compromise? What qualities define a good executive? What is justice? What is the difference between legislation and adjudication? How does the Congress really work?
Major units of study along the way are:
- Reading, Writing and Thinking Historically and Politically
- Revolution in politics and independence: The American Revolution
- Inventing a nation – Understanding the Constitution: The Development of the American Republic
- The Workings of Government – local, state, national
- Comparative World Politics
- A Mock Congress
The historian Peter Stearns writing for the American Historical Association, suggested that the study of history (and government) provides four attributes that help guide the human condition. The study of both provides moral understanding, provides identity, is essential for good citizenship, and is useful in the world of work in the 21st Century. The trip through history and government will be one of discovery, of inquiry, of searching for answers, argumentation, and challenging you to explore difficult and at times controversial topics. As Richard Wunderli of the University of Colorado said,” We should root around anywhere and everywhere for useful information that will help us understand what it means to be human.”
IBMYP Government and World History
Mr. Paul Blakesley
Periods 3 & 7
The focus of the course will be on the development of government in the United States; including the history of the American Revolution and Early Republic. The course demands much of a student’s reading, writing, and thinking skills. Many of the primary sources (written by the people of the time) from the period are dense, and much of the secondary literature (written by historians) is profound. Regardless of previous exposure, students are generally unaccustomed to the mental rigor of studying history, and often find this course to be one of their most demanding. Paying attention in class, doing the homework, and thinking—really thinking seriously about history, government and politics—are necessary to success at this level.
The IBMYP philosophy of student-centered learning through the Areas of Interaction is often implicit, and is central to the progression of the course. The ATL skills of thinking, communication, social, self-management and research are essential to the IB continuum of international education. Regardless of whether this is a student’s first year in the Middle Years Program or her/his fourth, all students will become familiar with IB terminology and philosophy.
 Peter N. Stearns, “Why Study History” American Historical Association http://www.historians.org/pubs/free/WhyStudyHistory.htm.
 Richard Wunderli, Peasant Fires (Bloomington Indiana University Press, 1992) 4.
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