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Oaxaca, Mexico: Understanding and Teaching World/Global History Through the Study of An Early Modern Mexican City

Thomas H. Mounkhall


Figure 1



     This book has a dual dedication. First, I need to recognize the work of Professor Donald R. Wright, who wrote the very influential and enjoyable book The World and a Very Small Place in Africa in 1997. Professor Wright's book has helped me to see the core world history processes at work in local areas, which has obviously influenced the organization of this text. My second dedication is to Professor Robert Bain from the University of Michigan; his writings and lectures have been the single greatest influence on my work in developing sophisticated thinking skills in my world history students.


     My work is also dedicated to my friends in Oaxaca, who have greatly added to my comprehension and appreciation of Oaxacan colonial history. Thanks to Nora Gutierrez Valencia for teaching me about the indigenous traditions of Oaxacan cuisine, clothing, and history. Thanks to William Gutierrez for patiently answering my hundreds of questions about life in Oaxaca City and its rural environs. Thanks to Fidel Hernandez for transporting me all over Oaxaca State in his station wagon, for being my most insightful teacher about Oaxacan history, and for introducing me to his beautiful family. Thanks to my wife, Sue, who has patiently accompanied me to countless Spanish colonial churches and indigenous archaeological sites over the past twelve years. Finally, a heartfelt thanks to the people of Oaxaca, who are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people it has ever been my pleasure to meet.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction – 6

2. A Core World History Metanarrative – 8

A) McNeill's Thesis: Cross-Regionals as Major Change Agent in World History – 8

B) Political Cross-Regionals – 10

C) Economic Cross-Regionals – 12

D) Cultural Cross-Regionals – 15

E) Biological Cross-Regionals – 17

F) Integration of Cross-Regionals – 19, 43, 78

3. Core World History Understandings – 20

A) Periodization – 20

B) Macro-Change – 23

C) Polycentrism – 24

D) Human Geography – 26

E) Metageography – 29

F) Importance of Oceans in World History – 31


G) Borderlands in World History – 33

H) Contingency in World History – 36

I) Human Agency in World History – 38

J) Relationship Between Local and Cross-Regional Processes – 40

K) People Without History – 43

L) Revisionist World History – 45

4. Sophisticated Domain Specific Thinking Skills – 47

A) Definition of Sophisticated Thinking Skills – 47

B) Constructed Knowledge – 48

C) Compare/Contrast – 52

D) Relationship of Events Over Time and Place – 55

E) Multiple Causation – 57

F) Multiple Perspectives – 61

G) Continuity and Change – 65

H) Historical Sense – 71

I) Influence of World History Upon the Present – 74

J) Metacognition – 78

5. Classroom Teaching Models – 80


A) Selection of Content For One High School Lesson in World History – 80

B) Rationale for Content Selection – 83

C) Lesson Planning for One Fifty Minute Secondary Lesson – 84

D) Secondary Lesson Plan- Cultural Diffusion to Early Modern Oaxaca, Mexico – 84

E) Principles of Lesson Planning Demonstrated in the Model Lesson 90

6. National Council for the Social Studies C3/ Core Common Framework Application – 91

7. Conclusions – 104

8. Glossary of Italicized Terms – 107

9. Appendices – 109

10. Notes – 117

11. Annotated Bibliography of Referenced Works – 118


     As you glance at the table of contents of this book, it may appear to be focused solely on teaching Oaxacan history through a world history viewpoint. It definitely provides the opportunity to do so in a very efficient manner. However, if you consider the table of contents carefully, you will realize that this publication is a mother lode of seminal world history aspects that will greatly assist you in understanding, planning, and teaching any type of world history course.


     This monograph contains classroom-tested teaching/learning techniques that address every core point of emphasis employed by world historians at work today. The seminal metanarrative of cross-regional connections as a significant change agent in the human narrative is fully developed with teaching examples for the four major categories of cross-regional encounters. In addition to this metanarrative of the discipline, the text contains teaching techniques that are designed to develop twelve of the core conceptual interpretations of the field, from periodization to revisionist history.

     The varied teaching/learning methods contained herein constitute a virtual graduate-level course that is focused on the teaching of world history in specific and any history/social studies courses in general. They are all classroom tested, address multiple learning styles, and require active student learning. They are also quite current in that many of them address the required disciplinary literacy skill development locus of the nationwide National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) C3/Common Core program.

     An equally important feature of this book focuses on classroom techniques that are directly related to the development of sophisticated, domain-specific thinking skills. Most of our students will not become world historians; therefore, this section is probably the most important one in the entire book. They will use these cognitive skills in whatever career path they choose. Nine core world history thinking skills are featured herein, including comparative history, multiple perspectives, and the relationship of events over time and place.

     Based on the title of the publication, one may think that this is solely a study in comprehending and teaching the history of Oaxaca City and State. In one sense, it is, and rightfully so, because this region of Mexico has an important and interesting past in its own right. However, the use of Oaxaca as the locus for this book is more complex than it first appears. The author has spent much time in the area and probably knows its history better than that of any other place in the world. In addition, the entire work is based on the world history approach of connecting the local past with contemporary cross-regional/global processes1. Consequently, the reader should consider the Oaxacan examples as models for interpreting and teaching the field. Obviously, Malacca, Istanbul, Cape Town, and myriad other sites could provide excellent examples of the core world history understandings addressed herein and hopefully will be so employed as the readers take the monograph's approach and apply it to their own professional work.


     In summary, scholar–educators reading this work will derive many useful benefits. The first will be a recognition of the main conceptual approaches to world history that are in use today. Second, this conceptual framework is essential for the efficient planning, teaching, and assessing of learning in any form of world history course. In addition, the educator will acquire an entire tool kit of teaching/learning ideas, which will definitely add to the quality of the students' learning. Next, scholar–educators will become acquainted with the essential domain-specific thinking skills for world history and will learn methods for their development. Finally, world history scholar–educators as learners will learn quite a bit about the early modern world history period through the Oaxaca, Mexico lens.

     This book is the result of fifty years of personal learning and teaching in the field of world/global history. My hope is that it assists all the book's readers in providing a quality education for your students and that it opens some doors for you into a branch of learning that is both challenging and very enjoyable.

 A Core Metanarrative of World History

     Since the 1960s, William H. McNeill's influential text The Rise of the West has been one of the foundation stones of the modern world history movement in the United States. The author realizes that other world history metanarratives are also influential in the discipline such as world systems theory, big history etc. but McNeill's analysis of the field takes precedence in his view. McNeill's main point is that cross-regional connections have been a major change agent in the human narrative, and this conceptual interpretation can be well taught by focusing on Oaxacan clothing2. There is no doubt that Cortez's conquest of the Mexica in 1521 c.e. was a macro-change in Mexican history. As a result of the fall of Tenochtitlan, the Spanish brought many novel techniques, fibers, clothing styles to Mexico. The indigenous backstrap loom was replaced by the Moorish–Spanish treadle loom, and maguey and palm fibers gave way to wool, flax, and silk. The additional muscle required by the treadle mill changed textile production from women's work to men's work. The indigenous female quechquemitl with a bare midriff was put away by the Catholic missionaries and was replaced by the Western European blouse. In lieu of traditional skirts, men adopted Western European pants, which have their origin among the horse-raising people of the Eurasian steppes. The sombrero with the wide brim for sun protection came with the Afro–Eurasian saddle and horse and has been modified into regional styles from Tejas to Chiapas.


     For effective teaching purposes, I suggest the use of a Mexican timeline that has 1521 c.e.-Cortez as the only vertical representing macro-change. To the left of the vertical, the teacher should list the examples of the indigenous clothing referenced above in a column. On parallel lines to the right of the vertical, the educator should list all the Post-Hispanic changes. Once the visual is completed, the students should be asked to identify the metanarrative of the visual, which is obviously the significant change brought about by the cross-regional links. A secondary learning activity would be to have a group of students research the origin of the treadle loom, silk, pants, and the saddle. Once these data are available, the teacher can enlarge the geographic scope of the world history story of Oaxacan clothing by connecting East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East to the narrative. A culminating Common Core activity would be to have the students write an essay arguing that Oaxacan clothing was a cross-regional story.


 Political Cross-Regional Processes

     In the past twenty-five hundred years, the people of Oaxaca have experienced many significant political changes. The first centralized state in the Oaxaca area was that of Monte Alban. This polity was a tributary state in which the Zapotec elite exploited people in the three Oaxacan valleys for the purpose of supporting an upper-class lifestyle for the chiefs and priests living on top of the Monte Alban acropolis. When this centralized state fell apart by c. 850 c.e., the political power shifted to the local leaders of the smaller city states in the region, such as Yagul and Mitla, both of which are located in the valley east of Oaxaca City. The next change came with the Mexica in 15th century c.e. This powerful group of indigenous overcame all military resistance from the Oaxacans and recreated the tributary state sequence that was first applied in the region by Monte Alban. A huge difference in this political relationship, however, was that the Oaxacan tribute in the form of food and cochineal was sent to the Mexica capital, Tenochtitlan, in the central valley of Mexico and not up the hills to Monte Alban.

     The Mexica's control over the Oaxacan people came to an abrupt end in 1521 c.e., which was the year when Cortez and his indigenous allies conquered the Mexica and destroyed Tenochtitlan. This development was a clear example of continuity and change in the political fortunes of the Oaxacaqueños. The fear of being a captive, sacrificial victim in Tenochtitlan was lifted as were the tributary payments to the Mexica capital. Nevertheless, Oaxacan natural resources continued to be removed from the region to benefit others. In this case, the Spanish replaced the Mexica as the beneficiaries of the tribute system as they established royal monopolies on the export of both silver and cochineal. An important aspect of this change of political status, which is of great interest to world historians, was the final destination of the Oaxacan goods. Prior to 1521 c.e., they were sent by land to satisfy the demands of the Mexica caciques in Tenochtitlan. Following the Spanish conquest of Nueva España, the Oaxacan tributary goods were transported across the world's oceans at the discretion of the Spanish king.


     The Oaxacans saw the Mexica caciques replaced by the Spanish king, the Mexica soldiers replaced by the Spanish viceroy and his army, and Mexica restrictions replaced by laws from the Spanish courts. However, the relationship of the Oaxacaqueños to the source of political power over them remained subservient until 1821 c.e. Mexican independence in that year ended three hundred years of Spanish colonialism and four hundred and twenty years of non-Zapotec political control in the Valley of Oaxaca.

     The lesson to develop the notion of political cross-regional processes as a serious change agent in world history may begin with the teacher placing a timeline on the whiteboard and the students should copy this into their notebooks. The timeline should be described as a highway with three exits. Instead of place names for the exits, they should be labeled 800 c.e., 1400 c.e., and 1521 c.e. Once the exits are copied and the highway metaphor is understood by the students, the teacher should articulate the political changes that occurred in Oaxaca during the three periods, referencing the aforementioned data. While listening carefully, the students should make their notes about the political changes right on the timeline. The educator should bring this learning activity to a close by emphasizing the world history process of cross-regional political connections as a change agent and the cognitive skill of continuity and change, both of which were demonstrated in the lesson.


     A Common Core application of this learning activity would be to have the students read the pages in their text that deal with the political consequences of the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1521 c.e. to supplement the data from the lesson. They should also be ready to discuss this essay topic: Was the Spanish conquest of the Oaxacans in 1521 c.e. a greater example of continuity or change? Students' opinions must be supported with clear evidence from the lesson and homework reading. Extra credit for the subsequent essay should be offered by the instructor for additional, supportive evidence sought out by individual students.

 Economic Cross-Regional Processes

     McNeill's seminal narrative of cross-regional encounters leading to significant change in world history can be effectively taught through a lesson on the cross-regional economic contacts dealing with Oaxacan cochineal. This indigenous, blood red dye has its origins in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, and by the early 17th century c.e., the Spanish were producing it in Oaxaca State and selling it worldwide.

     The lesson on cochineal in world history should begin with the students copying an abstract map of the world, which will have all the major global regions in proper geographic relationship to each other. A large model of this map should be on the whiteboard for the teacher's use, and it should have Oaxaca State in southern North America in the center of the composition. As the relevant data about cochineal in world history are communicated through a PowerPoint presentation, the students should follow the educator's lead and plot and label the cross-regional economic encounters on their maps.


     The first global connection of cochineal to be discussed and placed on the map should be with Western Europe. In this context, the students should view the use of the Oaxacan dye by many of the great Western European artists of the early modern period, such as Vermeer, Rubens and Rembrandt3. Expanding the Western European focus, the students should see the use of cochineal in the 17th century c.e. French royal tapestries of Gobelins and Oliver Cromwell's redcoats and its place on the stock exchanges of Amsterdam and London.

     There are two North American cochineal economic encounters that should be placed on the map. The Spanish started the exportation of the dye to Sevilla, Spain in 1523 c.e., and this long-distance trade lasted until the early 19th century c.e. The students will quickly recognize the economic importance of the cochineal trade as they become aware of the wreck of the Spanish galleon, Santa Maria de Ycias, which occurred in the Caribbean Sea in 1554 c.e. The one ship was carrying 20,000 pounds of cochineal bound for Western Europe. The British in North America also followed a policy of mercantilism, which forced the British colonists along the Atlantic coast to buy cochineal from British merchants only, rather than from Spanish traders. The forced mercantilist price was higher than the Spanish price and this is a fine example of one of the economic causes of the 18th-century c.e. American Revolution.

     By 1571 c.e., the Spanish had taken away the port of Manila in the Philippines from Muslim merchants, and they had also discovered the most efficient ocean route back across the Pacific Ocean to Mexico from Manila. These developments led directly to the creation of the Manila Galleon long-distance trade system that linked Spain, Mexico, the Philippines, and China and functioned from 1571 c.e. to 1815 c.e. Much cochineal was transferred from Manila to the southern coast of China along the Fujian coast. No doubt, the red dye, known as yang hung or foreign red, came back to Nueva España as the color on many of the beautiful Chinese embroidered garments brought to Acapulco, Mexico. Cochineal became so popular in the Philippines that it is still a staple component of lipstick production in 2015 c.e.


     There was so much Spanish ocean-borne, long-distance trade in the early modern period that these voyages became prime prey for pirates. This illegal activity was polycentric in nature in that both the South Malays and the Dutch were actively involved in capturing the Manila Galleons on the high seas. American silver and Chinese textiles were the main targets of these thieves, but so was cochineal. As previously referenced, a Spanish galleon could carry up to 20,000 pounds of the dye, which would bring a large profit in Bengal or Amsterdam.

     There was also much cochineal business in the Atlantic-Indian Ocean connection of Western Europe and India that was pioneered by Vasco da Gama.. The Oaxacan red dye most likely served as a major currency on the coasts of West Africa, where it was exchanged for human cargo. In addition to using cochineal as money in the Atlantic Slave Trade, the Portuguese and the Dutch sold it for profits in India. Indian textile manufacturers used the dye so much in the making of their woolen garments that it has its own Hindi name: shahdkash. To complete the polycentric journey of cochineal, we need to look at the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Many of the beautiful Ottoman carpets featured the Oaxacan dye in their compositions, and the Russian czars followed the lead of Oliver Cromwell when they outfitted their imperial guards in bright red coats.

     Once the global trade for early modern cochineal is fully mapped on the whiteboard abstract map and in the students' notebooks, the instructor should conclude the lesson. Many important world history points could be emphasized at this juncture, but the main one in the context of this lesson is that cross-regional economic contacts have served as powerful change agents in the human story.


Early Modern Cochineal Long Distance Trade

     A Common Core application of this learning activity would be to have students fill in an essay skeleton outline for this essay: "The Early Modern Cochineal Trade was Truly a Polycentric Exchange." The teacher should supply the blank outline with nine sections corresponding to the nine global regions involved in the early modern cochineal trade.

 Cultural Cross-Regional Processes

     A classroom study of the diffusion of Classical Greek architectural elements to early modern Oaxaca would be an effective means of teaching of the core world history narrative of cross-regional cultural contact leading to significant change. This cultural exchange, mediated by the Italian Renaissance and Spanish conquest of New Spain in the early 16th century c.e., lends itself to a learning activity featuring visual imagery and the world history thinking skill of identifying relationships among events across time and place. The teacher should break up the entire class into seven smaller groups and assign each group a specific task relative to the images to be viewed. The task for each group should be to identify relationships between the two images assigned to them, one of which will be from ancient Greece and the second will be from early modern Oaxaca.


     The images from ancient Greece range from coins and sculptures to architecture. After all the images have been viewed and identified by the teacher, the members of each small group should discuss the relationship between the pair of items assigned to them. Following this small-group discussion period, the educator should convene a large-group discussion on the topic of ancient Greek influence on early modern Oaxaca. This learning activity should be supplemented by a map that will identify the path of the ancient Greek items through ancient Rome to Post-Classic Spain and, finally, to Spanish Anteguera- Oaxaca.

     The instructor should bring the lesson to a close by connecting the relationships among the ancient Greek and the early modern Oaxacan items in the lesson to the important world history theme of cultural diffusion. Once the students see the thematic dimension of the lesson, the educator should bring the class to an end by relating cultural diffusion to the major metanarrative of the discipline, that being cross-regional contact as a major change agent in world history.

Sample List of Items:

Ancient Greek Early Modern Oaxaca

1. Charioteer - c. 470 b.c.e. 1. Saints on the Façade of Santo Domingo - c. 1650 c.e.

2. City Grid, Alexandria - 332 b.c.e. 2. Map of Oaxaca Centro - c. 1530 c.e.

3. Peristyle Courtyard, Athens - 450 b.c.e. 3. Cloister-Santo Domingo - c. 1650 c.e.


 Biological Cross- Regional Processes

     One of the more recent and welcome subfields of world history is the category of cross-regional biological contacts. Through the early 1960s, wars and politicians crowded out plants and animals from traditional world history courses. Partially as a result of the environmental movement of the 1960s, biology has come into the focus of world historians. Complementing this emphasis on the natural world were innovative and trendsetting works, such as The Columbian Exchange4 and Ecological Imperialism5, both by Alfred Crosby. Since biological history has become a fundamental aspect of the discipline, it should certainly be part of one's education in the subject area.

     The biological approach to the human narrative can be well taught using four examples of the subfield from early modern Oaxacan history. The selection of biological examples by the instructor should identify the breadth of this concentration for the students. The movement of Afro–Eurasian genes to Oaxaca after Cortez and the unintentional diffusion of Afro–Eurasian diseases to Mesoamerica in the same period will successfully address the Oaxacan reception from the so-called "Old World." To balance out this narrative of biological diffusion, the teacher should select the movements of maize to China and nopales cactus to global subtropical zones. This selection of content to be taught is a fundamental skill to be developed by world history educators simply because there is so much available information in the field.


     This lesson should be a group work activity, which will be spread out over a period of a few weeks. The first step is to split the class up into four smaller groups and assign each group one of the four aforementioned examples of Oaxacan biological cross-regional exchanges. The task for each group is to research and present the global narrative of the assigned topic within a three-week period. The initial week is for research, the second is for group discussion and planning, and the third is for group presentations to the entire class.

     Prior to the group presentations, the teacher should clarify that the fundamental aspect of world history being focused on is biological cross-regional contact. To demonstrate that world history responds to the period within which it is written, the educator should discuss the relationship between the environmental movements of the 1960s and the biological metanarrative of the field. As students listen to the group presentations of their peers, their task is to take notes on the data that support the instructor's claim that biological cross-regional contacts are an important feature of world history. This learning activity should conclude with two learning activities, the first of which should be a teacher summary after each group presentation in which the specific types of cross-regional biological exchanges are identified. The list of these types relative to each topic follows:

Presentation #1 - Afro–Eurasian Genes to the Americas: genetic diffusion and genetic synthesis

Presentation-#2 - Afro–Eurasian Disease to the Americas: disease diffusion, geographic isolation, lack of immunity, epidemics, and unintended consequences

Presentation #3 - Maize to China: flora diffusion, population explosion, and contingency

Presentation #4 - Nopales to Global Tropical and Subtropical Climate Zones: flora diffusion

     The second closure activity relates directly to the Common Core requirements. The educator should lead a class discussion focused on whether the evidence presented by the groups proves the credibility of the teacher's original claim holding that biological cross-regional contacts are central to the discipline.


 Integration of Cross-Regionals

Academic distinctions, such as labeling certain data as an illustration of cultural diffusion or disease diffusion, are necessary to make some sense out of the complex human experience. However, if they are overstressed, many students will fail to realize that human experience is complicated and integrated, as are many of the separate world history themes that we develop.

An informed exercise on the colonial Oaxacan cochineal trade can effectively demonstrate the interrelationships among many cross-regional transactions. The teacher can split the entire class into four smaller groups and then separate each small group into working pairs or trios, depending on the number of students. A visual organizer should then be introduced on the whiteboard, and it should have four interlocked circles. Each of the circles should be labeled with one of these previously learned cross-regional processes: 1 - biological connections, 2 - economic connections, 3 - cultural connections, and 4 - political connections.

After the students copy the graphic organizer in their notebooks, each group should be assigned one of the four types of cross-regional links on the visual organizer "e.g.," Group 1 - political, Group 2 - cultural, and so on. As they participate in the PowerPoint about the colonial Oaxacan cochineal trade, their task is to identify and write down examples of their assigned cross-regional processes in the cochineal story. Upon completion of the PowerPoint presentation, the working pairs or trios should be given time to discuss their selections. Following these small-group discussions, the students should be asked to articulate their choices to the entire class, and the instructor will place these in the appropriate thematic section of the visual organizer.


     The completed graphic organizer will serve as a powerful teaching/learning tool. It will be obvious to all that the assembled data concerning the Oaxacan cochineal trade could be used to develop any one of the aforementioned cross-regional exchanges. However, at this point, the educator should emphasize the integrated nature of the entire process. For example, it was the Spanish-imposed mercantilist policy on cochineal trade that led to its shipment to Manila in exchange for Chinese embroidered textiles. At the conclusion of this set of learning activities, the students will have developed a perspective on interrelationships through which they can better appreciate the complex reality of human activity.

Integrated Cross-Regional Trade

 Core World History Understandings


     A study of systems of periodization has great potential for learning world history. Too many people regard timelines as practical vehicles for remembering the dates of important past events. In doing so, they miss the more fundamental relationship between periodization and world history. Any considered organization of the past into neatly carved periods is the result of serious thought. Well-intentioned world historians disagree on their ideas of periodization. This is a positive lesson for students because it makes the point that the discipline is a thinking process at its core6. What is key is the rationale behind any periodization system.


     Even though many different ideas of world history periodization exist, the Western European canonical model still carries much weight in our subject area. This system essentially has five verticals: 8000 b.c.e., 3000 b.c.e., 500 c.e., 1500 c.e., and 1800 c.e. All five of these relate to seminal events in the Afro–Eurasian and Western European experience. This is one of this system's greatest weaknesses in the opinion of many world historians who do not consider the fall of the Western Roman Empire as having global ramifications. Many of them posit the rise of Islam in the early 7th century c.e. as a better vertical for the end of ancient history than the Germanic sacking of the Western Roman Empire.

     This prelude begs the question, how does the canonical world history periodization relate to the Oaxacan experience? This intellectual process addresses one of the core perceptions of the field—namely, what is the relationship between global and local processes? The attempt to correlate Oaxacan history and the canonical world history periodization system provides an excellent learning activity for students.

     In the first class focusing on this question, the teacher may introduce the canonical periodization system with its five verticals, their justifications, and their limitations. The entire class should be split up into five subgroups, with each of these being assigned one of the canonical verticals—for example, Group 1 - 8000 b.c.e., Group 2 - 3000 b.c.e., Group 3 - 500 c.e., Group 4 - 1500 c.e., and Group 5 - 1800 c.e. Once this organization is complete, the groups should be given the task of deciding whether their assigned vertical relates well to Oaxacan history. Following an ample period of time for research on their past notes on Oaxacan History and group discussion, the class will reassemble as a large group. The educator should then lead a general discussion on the topic, during which each group will present its conclusions and rationales.


     Three of the canonical verticals work well for Oaxaca. The 8000 b.c.e. date, which signifies the macro-change of the Agricultural Revolution, works very well for Oaxaca because the initial domestication of maize and squash took place in Mesoamerica at approximately that time. The vertical of 1500 c.e. obviously works for Oaxaca because 1521 c.e. brought Cortez and the entire macro-change to Mesoamerica of the Spanish conquest ,whereas the 1800 c.e. vertical corresponds to the beginning of the Mexican independence movement of 1810 c.e., which was, to a large extent, made possible by Napoleon's invasion of Spain in 1805 c.e.

     The students will learn a very positive lesson in local and world history as they relate the canonical periodization system to the Oaxaca narrative. The vertical at 3000 b.c.e., which indicates the creation of the first cities in world history located in Mesopotamia does not mark any similar development in the Oaxaca area. Prior to c. 500 b.c.e., there were relatively small agrarian communities, such as San José el Mogote in the Etla Valley to the north of Oaxaca City. However, no large cities were established in the region from c. 8000 b.c.e. to c. 500 b.c.e., which makes the 3000 b.c.e. vertical irrelevant to the Oaxacan experience. Whereas the first cities were developed in the Tigris–Euphrates Valley of Mesopotamia in c. 3000 b.c.e., it took another 2,500 years before the Zapotec urban, ceremonial center at Monte Alban was developed in c. 500 b.c.e.

     The traditional vertical at c. 500 c.e. also does not apply to the Oaxacan Valleys for at least two reasons. The first is that the date is definitely Eurocentric in nature and marks the fall of the Western Roman Empire as a macro-change in world history. There is no doubt that Rome's demise was a fundamental change for Western Europeans, but for Oaxacquenos, it might as well have not happened at all, given the absolute separation of the Americas from Afro–Eurasia at the time. Furthermore, by c. 500 c.e., the Zapotec early civilization of Monte Alban was still going strong and did not collapse until c. 800 c.e.


     Students could also learn valuable lessons about multiple perspectives and the influence of tradition in world history by contrasting the current secular time divisions of b.c.e. and c.e. with the system still seen in many local Oaxacan museums and historical sites. The Oaxacan notation is a.c. for Ante Cristo or Before Christ and d.c. for Despuis Cristo or After Christ. The local system is still obviously Christian in context as an adaptation of the traditional Western European notation method. It is also a clear indication that the Oaxacan society has not accepted the secularization that has occurred in the work of United States and Western European historians in the past thirty years.


     A careful study of Oaxacan flora in world history context can fruitfully develop the important world history understanding of macro-change . The educator should employ a PowerPoint presentation on the topic and should stop it at four junctures in the account. At each stop, the date of the macro-change should go on a whiteboard timeline, which should be copied in the students' notebooks. The four major significant periods are as follows: 1. 8000 b.c.e.- Agricultural Revolution, 2. c. 500 b.c.e. - Urbanization at Monte Alban, 3. c. 1500 c.e. - Columbian Exchange, and 4. 1571 c.e. - Beginning of Manila Galleon Trans- Pacific trade from the port of Huatulco on the Oaxacan Pacific Isthmus.


     Once the timelines are completed, the teacher should explain the macro-change nature of each of the four junctures. The first two relate to the domestication of maize and the creation of one of the first cities in all the Americas at Monte Alban. The third signifies the end of the isolation of the Americas from Afro–Eurasia, and the fourth represents the Manila Galleon trade connecting China, the Philippines, and Mexico, which linked all the world's global regions in long-distance trade for the first time since Pangea. The lesson should conclude with a short summary by the instructor emphasizing the meaning of macro-change in the Oaxacan and human experiences.


     Whereas most histories have focused on internal developments, since its inception in the 1960s, the current world history movement has moved beyond the existing political boundaries of the time period under consideration. Seminal thinkers in our discipline, such as Philip Curtin7 and Jerry Bentley8, have challenged any type of centric thinking, be it Afrocentric, Sinocentric, and so on. If you want to develop a polycentric understanding of the field, a study of Oaxacan flora from a world history perspective would be a very effective learning experience.


     I would start the lesson with an abstract map of the world on the whiteboard and in the students' notebooks. This map would have all the global regions of the world represented by labeled circles, all of which would be in proper relative geographic position to each other. Once this is ready, the learning activity would continue with a PowerPoint slide presentation on Oaxacan flora from the world history perspective, during which the students would be asked to concentrate on plants that either moved into Oaxaca from other global regions or were diffused globally from Mesoamerica. At the conclusion of the PowerPoint presentation, the educator should lead a large-class discussion in which the students articulate the specific data they have identified from the presentation.

     Each example will be plotted on the whiteboard by the instructor, who will also complement the students' contributions with in-depth knowledge of Oaxacan flora diffusion. Each plant's movement will be traced on the whiteboard and in the students' notebooks by the process of arrows indicating the diffusion of the plant either into or from Mesoamerica. Upon completion, the map will show Oaxacan guavas in the Philippines, maize in China, nopales in India, and chili peppers in Hungary. Conversely, the chart will indicate Western European wheat, Indonesian sugar cane, and Brazilian pineapples as moving into Mesoamerica from far away. In addition to reinforcing the previously taught world history theme of flora diffusion, the teacher should use the completed map to develop the core disciplinary understanding of polycentrism. Even though Mesoamerica is at the center of the map, the action directly connects eight of the major global regions of the planet. The students, who have made these flora diffusion links on their maps, will develop an immediate experience of the connected nature of the human past.



 Human Geography

     According to the initial historians of Western historiography, the Ancient Greeks, the two fundamentals of any history are time and place. Most historians do a fine job of describing the important aspects of chronology in a historical narrative, but the geographical context of human behavior is less privileged. The natural conditions of Oaxaca City present world history educators with many examples with which they can develop the syncretic relationship between climate and landforms.

     An effective means of developing the theme of human geography or the effective human use of the natural surroundings to provide the basic necessities of life would be to have students reflect on their bodies of notes at the end of their study of ancient Oaxacan history. Half of the class may be assigned the climate of the region, and the other half of the class should be directed to focus on the area's landforms. The homework assignment for both groups is to review the corpus of their notes on ancient Oaxacan history and identify specific examples of human adaptation to the natural world.

     In class the next day, all the students should copy this essay task: "Does the Ancient History of Oaxaca Reflect the Syncretic Relationship between Climate and Landforms?" The students should then be given the following rubric, which addresses the complex task of essay prewriting:

Paragraph 1 - Claim Paragraph - 10 Points

a) Oaxaca Time and Place - 5 Points

b) Specific Claim Relative to the Task - 5 Points

Paragraph 2 - Support Paragraph - 25 Points

a) Claim that Supports Specific Essay Claim 5 Points

b) Evidence - 10 Points

c) Evidence - 10 Points


Paragraph 3 - Support Paragraph - 25 Points

a) Claim that Supports Specific Essay Claim - 5 Points

b) Evidence - 10 Points

c) Evidence - 10 Points

Paragraph 4 - Support Paragraph - 25 Points

a) Claim that Supports Specific Essay Claim - 5 Points

b) Evidence - 10 Points

c) Evidence - 10 Points

Paragraph 5 - Concluding Paragraph - 15 Points

a) Restatement of Essay Claim - 5 Points

b) Significance of Topic in World History from 500 c.e. on - 10 Points

N.B.: All evidence must be accurate, specific, and relevant to the task

Extra Credit Option #1: Students may include additional, non-class evidence that is properly cited

Extra Credit Option #2: Students may properly use the world history vocabulary from their thematic notebook sections; all terms should be highlighted.

     Once the rubric is passed out and its use is understood, the educator should commence a discussion on the relationship between Oaxacan physical geography and Oaxacan ancient history. As individual students articulate specific examples of this core relationship from their homework reflection, the rest of the class should place the data on the appropriate rubric line as evidence. For example, the fact that three natural valleys intersect near the site of Monte Alban should go into a paragraph about the influence of landforms on Oaxacan history and should be related to the location of the urban site in c. 500 b.c.e.


     At the conclusion of the discussion and note-taking, the instructor should emphasize that the world history theme under consideration during the learning exercise is human geography. Homework for the evening after the class is to fill in the essay rubric with evidence from the class placed in its proper location in the outline. Motivated students may do additional research on the topic and add new cited evidence to the rubric.


     The notion of metageography is a core world history perception. The term simply means that all of us have mental maps of the world that have been greatly conditioned by the maps we have looked at consistently throughout our lives. Our mental maps may be geographically limited by our experiences, and perhaps they are "centric" in form, as in Sinocentric, Afrocentric, or Eurocentric. Since world history is polycentric at its base, any centric mental map must be challenged because it probably does not properly address the cross-regional dimensions of the field9. One clear illustration that comes to mind is a map of the 14th-century c.e. Black Death in Europe that shows its beginning in the Black Sea ports when the true origin of the disease was in Central Asia/Western China.

     An effective method of teaching and/or reinforcing the notion of metageography is to contrast two maps of the early modern long-distance trade of New Spain/Oaxaca. The first should be the conventional view of the Spanish galleons leaving Havana carrying Mexican and Bolivian silver to Sevilla by way of the Gulf Stream winds. Even though this picture of Spanish mercantilism is accurate, it is quite limited in scope and is Atlantic-centered. For contrast, the students may be shown a map of the early modern long-distance trade links of New Spain that connect the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. Indian textiles and Chinese silk embroideries by way of Manila to Acapulco should complement the picture of the Spanish galleons connecting Vera Cruz to Sevilla by way of Havana, Cuba. As the students are asked to focus on what geographic areas are privileged by both maps, they will see Nueva España as the central node in a long-distance trading network that connected Southeast Asia, East Asia, North America, West Indies, and Western Europe through an ocean-borne enterprise.



 Oceans in World History

     A world history teacher can easily develop the importance of oceans in the global narrative by using carefully selected slides of Talavera ceramic. This pottery, which has been produced in Puebla, Mexico since the mid-16th century c.e., is one of the chief Mexican crafts. Since Puebla is only a few hours by bus north of Oaxaca, I have included its chief craft in this study. The students can start with a blank map of all the global regions situated in their correct locations relative to each other. The first slide should be of a blue and white talavera ceramic decorated with geometric and floral designs. After identifying this pottery as an example of an Ibero–Moorish design, the teacher should have the students connect southern Spain with Puebla, Mexico by an arrow labeled "Ibero–Moorish Talavera c. 1580 c.e."


Ibero-Moorish Talavera

     The students should then be shown a second slide of talavera, which has the same blue and white color scheme but the compositions depict animal figures. The animal figures should be identified as Ming Chinese designs that came to Mexico by way of the Manila Galleons starting in the late 16th century c.e. These long-distance trading vessels carried Bolivian and Mexican silver to China by way of the Acapulco–Manila connection that was begun in 1571 c.e. The animal figures were originally on Ming Dynasty blue and white porcelain carried back to Acapulco from Manila, Philippines. As students draw a line on their map linking China, the Philippines, and Mexico, which they will label "Ming porcelain c. 1600 c.e.," the teacher should emphasize the significance of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the narrative.


Chinese-Influenced Talavera

 Borderlands in World History

     Borderlands are regions that sit between two or more human-made boundaries on a map. The borders may be political—that is, separating two political entities, such as countries, provinces, and so on. They may also be cultural, in that they separate different language, religious, and/or ethnic groups, all of whom live inside the same state. One of the primary points of emphasis in reference to borderlands in world history focuses on geographic–cultural border regions in which there is a give-and-take exchange between two separate areas. The Mekong River provinces of Vietnam and Cambodia certainly qualify as borderland regions. Cambodian culture is essentially Indian in origin, whereas Vietnamese culture is basically Chinese. The people in both border provinces hold on to their respective cultures. However, there is a definite cultural exchange across the Mekong Delta.


     The early modern Spanish border between Puebla and Oaxaca states will serve as an excellent teaching tool to develop the world history theme of borderlands.. One half of the class should be assigned the topic of the Franciscan Templo Virgen de la Asunción Tecomalchalco in Puebla State, and the other half of the class should be assigned the topic of the Dominican Templo San Juan Bautista Coixtlahuaca in Oaxaca State. Both groups should research data about their respective templos that relate to the following categories: time, place, missionary order, west façade, crenellation, bell tower shape, interior art, millennial influence, directional orientation of the buildings, and attached cloisters.

     Once the research period is over, the teacher may hold a large-class discussion in which the two templos are compared and contrasted. Specific visual data can be found about the two structures on google images. Supplemental information will be supplied by the educator. The discussion should be facilitated by the use of a four-column visual organizer, which should be up on the whiteboard and in the students' notebooks. The left-hand column should list all the research topics assigned to the groups of students. Moving from left to right, the second column should be labeled "Tecomalchalco," the third column should be labeled "Similarities," and the fourth should be labeled "Coixtlahuaca." As the students articulate the results of their research, the educator should place the data on the compare/contrast visual organizer in the following manner. If there is a similarity, the data should be placed in the third column, but if the evidence is different, the data should be placed under the name of the respective templo.


     Once the graphic organizer is completed with the students' research contributions, the instructor should employ the classified evidence to address the world history notion of borderlands. The border on the map was drawn by the Spanish viceroy as a clear marker of the political organization of New Spain. However, the assembled data about the two monasteries lend a more nuanced interpretation of the situation on both sides of the boundary. Both institutions shared a common architectural vocabulary: west-to-east orientation, attached cloister, square bell tower, and some Amerindian cultural influence. However, the border certainly indicated major contrasts in the two Catholic missionary complexes. Since the monastery in Puebla State was Franciscan, it definitely had a millenarian approach to its artistic program, whereas the Dominican monastery across the border in Oaxaca State showed no overt millenarian influence in its painting. Students will leave this lesson with the realization that borderlines on a map signify differences on both sides of the boundary. However, as in this case, cultural similarities may extend across a political boundary.



     There is a certain amount of determinism in all history writing and world history is no exception. However, the large majority of professionals in our field reject any form of historical determinism. In place of the notion that human affairs must play out in a certain way, most historians in our discipline emphasize the dual influences of human agency and contingency in past human experience. Teachers who desire to develop the idea of contingency in world history would do well to employ the database regarding Oaxacan dance as their teaching vehicle.


     The similar dates of the Zapotec Guelaguetza dance festival honoring the corn goddess, Centeotl, and the Catholic liturgical calendar for the Feast of Our Lady of Carmen allowed the Catholic Church to Christianize the indigenous mid-July rain festival. In reference to the Devil's Dance, which is a staple folk dance at the Guelaguetza festival that comes from the Pacific coast of Oaxaca State, the most important chance element is that captured slaves from West Africa brought it to Oaxaca .These forced migrants brought their indigenous culture and dance with them across the Middle Passage. In contrast, if these slaves had been taken from East Africa and had come to Mexico by way of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, they probably would have carried Islam with them to Nueva España, and their dance would have been substantially different. As it was, the Atlantic Ocean trade winds brought the West Africans to Vera Cruz along with their animist belief system that permeates the Devil's Dance.

     After breaking up the entire class into working pairs, the instructor should commence a focus on a second folk dance, which is the Pineapple Dance from the Northeast Oaxacan City of Tuxtepec. The city's dancers dropped a Spanish fandango in 1958 c.e. and developed a dance around the pineapple fruit to represent their culture and history. Pineapples have their origin in Brazil and made their way to Tuxtepec by way of the West Indies. To thrive, the fruit needs a tropical climate, which Tuxtepec has, in contrast to much of Oaxaca State, which has a semiarid climate. The working pairs should be asked to consider the evidence about the Pineapple Dance and identify any examples of determinism or contingency in the Tuxtepec narrative. Following some discussion time, the pairs of students should be encouraged to exchange their views in a large-class discussion. It will become obvious that the humid climate of Tuxtepec was the chance factor that led to the Pineapple Dance.


     Once these data about the two Oaxacan dances are clear, the teacher should raise this question: In either case was any development of the dance the result of forces that caused the dance to develop in only one manner? The ensuing discussion should clarify the influence of chance rather than a predetermined result. This discussion should be brought to a close by an educator summary that develops the contrast between determinism and contingency in world history. For example, did Isabella have to grant Columbus permission to sail west? Did Cortez have to show up in New Spain at the auspicious fifty-two-year intersection of the two Aztec calendars?

 Human Agency

     Many factors led to the creation of the contemporary piñata custom that is enjoyed in Oaxaca today. Long-distance trade routes and imperial expansion made great contributions to the process. Since world history emphasizes the influences of broad, cross-regional developments in the global narrative, the specific, important contributions of individuals are many times overlooked. In the case of the piñata, six groups of people from different global regions and time periods have all made decisions that eventually produced the modern form of the custom.

     East Asia was the site of the first two decisions that influenced the piñata game. To ensure a good harvest during the Sung Dynasty, mandarins devised the prototype for the piñata during the Chinese New Year. Seeds were placed inside an animal effigy—probably a dragon—which, when struck by people wielding sticks, dropped the seeds on the ground. The Mandarins then burned the seeds and eventually offered the ashes to their many gods. This Chinese custom was carried to Western Europe in the early 14th century c.e. The causation of this diffusion was multiple with the publication of Marco Polo's book in c. 1300 c.e., the relative safety of the Mongol road system and the Vatican mission in Beijing from 1305 c.e. on all playing a part in the process.

     Following the diffusion of the Chinese custom to Italy, two decisions regarding the piñata were made in Post-Classic Western Europe. The Italian Catholic Church adopted the ritual into its 14th-century c.e. Lenten observances by making the first sunday of Lent Pignatta Sunday. The Catholic connection then brought the custom to Spain. After the voyages of Columbus, the activity was carried to Santo Domingo in the West Indies by the Spanish.


     Two significant decisions relative to the activity were made at very different times in Nueva España. The first was made by 14th-century c.e. Aztec priests in the Valley of Mexico. They designed a ritual to celebrate the birthday of their war god, Huitzlipotchli, which fell on the winter solstice on December 21st. During this ritual, a blindfolded person would break a pot full of gifts with a stick, and the gifts would be subsequently laid at the god's feet. The second decision was made in the same general vicinity of the Mexica capital by Augustinian missionaries but fully two hundred years later than the Aztec activity. The followers of Saint Augustin had two major goals for the piñata. The first was to co-opt the feast day of the Mexica war god into the Catholic liturgical calendar, and the second was to use the combined Chinese, Italian, and Aztec rituals as a tool for the conversion of the indigenous Mesoamericans. They accomplished the initial goal by relating the piñata activity to the Catholic feast of the Posadas, which takes place from December 16th through December 24th on the Catholic liturgical calendar. In pursuing the second goal, the pignatta pot became a seven-pointed star filled with sweets. Symbolically, the star shape represented temptation, the blindfolded person with the stick became the sinner, and the priest by his side stood for the church's guidance for the misguided. Once the star was broken, the devil's hold over the sinner was gone, and the faithful Mesoamerican was showered with gifts from heaven above.

     The final decision that influenced the piñata was an indirect one. In the 1860s c.e., the Mexican president, Benito Juarez, decisively secularized the Mexican state. Juarez, who was greatly influenced by the French Revolution, took away Catholic Church property, privileges, and authority over marriages and so on. In doing so, he moved his country toward the society it is today, in which the Catholic Church is only an important religious institution within a modern secular state. Consequently, for the piñata, its religious origin from the 16th century c.e. exists only in the history books, and Mexican kids play the game for fun with no thoughts of heaven or hell.


Relationship Between Local and Cross-Regional Processes

     In a world history course that emphasizes cross-regional contacts as an important change agent, the influence of local people—the people on the ground—is many times ignored or is at least subservient to the major narrative. This should not be the case, because indigenous decision making is a fundamental aspect of the human story. 10

     In the case of the Santo Domingo Convento in Oaxaca, the cross-regional aspects of the history fit neatly into the overall flow of the course. The respective influences of Isabella, Columbus, Cortez, and Charles the Fifth on 16th-century c.e. Oaxaca are quite well known and are easily addressed in the development of early modern world history. The decisions by the Vatican and the Dominican Order to Christianize the local Zapotecs and Mixtecs are easily taught as Latin American examples of Western European cultural diffusion accompanying the so-called "Old Imperialism."

     How does one effectively teach indigenous influence in world history in the face of the "express train" of cross-regional encounters occupying much of the "track space"? One way to address this important need is to employ a visual organizer that emphasizes cross-cultural and local factors equally in the account. A generic model of such a graphic organizer follows:


     The educator can then lead a discussion of the cross-regional factors that partially led to the construction of Santo Domingo, Oaxaca. As these causes are articulated, both the teacher and the students should place the data in the proper quadrant of the graphic organizer. For example, Cortez's victory over the Mexica in c. 1521 c.e. should be placed in the outer political section, and the Vatican's decision to appoint the Dominicans as the primary missionary order in the region should be placed in the external cultural section of the visual organizer.


     In terms of emphasizing the internal causative agents in the construction of the Santo Domingo complex, the entire class should be split up into four smaller groups, with each group assigned one of the four categories of causation under discussion—namely, political, economic, cultural, and biological. Once this organization is complete, the teacher should deliver a PowerPoint presentation on the topic of the indigenous causation of the building complex. While watching, the students will carefully identify data that relate to their assigned general area of causation, such as the Zapotec caciques accepting Catholicism early in the 16th century c.e. Following the completion of the slide presentation and a few minutes for intergroup discussion, the educator should commence a large-class discussion concerning the indigenous causation of the Santo Domingo Convento. As students articulate the data they have identified, both the instructor and the students will place this evidence in the correct section of the interior rectangle of the graphic organizer. Once the discussion is over and the visual organizer is completely filled in, the educator should bring the learning activity to a close by emphasizing the core world history understanding of local agency.


Completed Visual Organizer Re: Local Agency in World History


 People Without a History

     For the most part, history is based on the interpretation of written records from the past. This is certainly true for world history, which is essentially based on the written records of all the literate societies in the human narrative. Although some archaeological and anthropological data have been used by world historians, most of the experience of nonliterate peoples has not been privileged by most experts in the field. Eric Wolf addressed this problem well in his seminal 1982 book Europe and the People Without History11. Mongols, Polynesians, Tuaregs, and countless other nonliterate groups are in world history narratives, but their stories are usually told through the lens of literate observers. Obviously, these groups without an alphabet and written history deserve better treatment by world historians. The world history instructor, sensitive to this gap in historiography, could work to rectify it by focusing on a Zapotec perspective of Oaxacan history.

     The task for the students would be to write the history of Oaxaca City and State from the indigenous view. In preparation, the large class should be split up into eight smaller groups of three to four students per subgroup. The topics of research for the subgroups should be as follows:

Groups 1 and 2 - cochineal

Groups 3 and 4- village of Teotitlan del Valle

Groups 5 and 6 – worship of the Virgin of Guadalupe

Groups 7 and 8 – pilgrimage to Soledad Basilica on 12/18 feast day

     The teacher may begin by giving each group an educator written Spanish version of their respective topics. The students should then be directed to research the indigenous history of their topic online, while paying close attention to the credibility of the sources used. Through discussion and the application of its research, each group should plan and write a history of its topic from the perspective of the Zapotecs in 2014 c.e., reflecting on their history since 1521 c.e. Once the short histories are written and revised by the groups, they should be summarized by each group in a large-class discussion in which the contrasts between the indigenous and the Western European views are highlighted. The teacher should bring these learning activities to a close by emphasizing the notion of preliterate peoples as people without a history. ( see appendix #8 for models of both paragraph types)


 Revisionist History

     World history is, at its core, revisionist history. Students in a world history course need to understand the notion of revisionist history at the general level and to appreciate the specific demands it places on world historians. Written history in the West since the 1860s c.e. has been focused primarily on men, political developments, and Western Europeans. Where cross-regional connections have been discussed, they have usually been portrayed as one-way streets, with Western Europeans being the primary agents of linkage. Since the late 1960s c.e., many world historians have sought to reverse this limited narrative by emphasizing the polycentric nature of cross-regional exchanges and their myriad, global agents.

     Educators of world history may develop this notion of revisionist history by having the students read two paragraphs in sequence. The first paragraph should address the encounter between the early modern Spanish and the indigenous Americans in the 16th century c.e. from a traditional Eurocentric perspective. The diffusion of ideas, genes, flora, fauna, and so on will be portrayed as a one-way street emanating from Sevilla to Oaxaca. As they read this paragraph, the students should diagram these examples of cross-regional contacts on a map demonstrating the positive and negative aspects of the Afro–Eurasian contributions to the Columbian Exchange. Upon completion of the reading and the map details, the instructor should lead a discussion of the metanarrative of the Columbian Exchange as taught so far in this lesson. The basic story of this process should be identified by the educator as a clear example of a traditional, Eurocentric approach to world history.

     The students should then read a second paragraph about this seminal encounter that emphasizes the contributions made by the indigenous Amerindians in the exchange. Oaxacan maize will be traced in the reading to the slopes of China, and the Oaxacan nopales cactus will be linked to India. Mesoamerican chillies will be traced to the kitchens of Budapest. Once all these American contributions to the Columbian Exchange have been added to the original map, the teacher should conduct a second summative discussion. The additions and revisions of the second narrative should be identified as a clear example of world history as revisionist history, which they will find detailed in Alfred Crosby's excellent work on the topic: The Columbian Exchange.12


Spanish language, Catholicism


 Sophisticated Domain Specific Thinking Skills

Definition of Sophisticated Thinking Skills

     The phrase critical thinking is frequently used in the educational literature and is often misunderstood by educators and the general public alike. It is also found in countless course curricula. However, educators oftentimes pay only lip service to critical thinking because they do not fully understand its meaning, or they are under great pressure to teach a plethora of world history factual data.

     In the opinion of this writer, the development of critical thinking skills in one's students is the most important goal of world history instructors. Very few of our students will go on to be world history educators in the future, but all of them will be expected to function at high levels of cognitive activity as they take their places in our postindustrial world.

     The definition of critical thought should be quite clear. The phrase means the cognitive ability to use factual data beyond the memorization level. For example, students can memorize that Columbus sailed for Spain in three ships and accidentally reached the Americas in 1492 c.e. This is obviously important factual data that supply the "raw material" for critical thought. When students are asked to identify the multiple causes of these voyages or to suggest different views of this event as held by contemporary Venetians, Portuguese, and indigenous Americans, they must use the factual evidence in a sophisticated manner. Sophisticated, domain-specific thinking in which factual data are used at abstract levels is a fine synonymous description for critical thinking.


     There are many legitimate, domain-specific thinking skills that could be developed in a world history course. The remainder of this section of the book will concentrate on the nine sophisticated thinking skills that the author believes are the most important. Obviously, some important ones have been left out, and it is strongly recommended that individual teachers develop their own lists. However, whatever thinking skills are on the teachers' lists, they should be a teaching and learning priority.

 Constructed Knowledge

     For the educator who wants to develop the cognitive skill of constructed knowledge, the Oaxacan zocalo-central plaza presents a fine teaching/learning vehicle. The learning session can begin with the full class being broken up into five smaller subgroups, and each group should be assigned a previously studied world history concept. For example, these five ideas could be used effectively: continuity, cultural diffusion, absolute monarchy, urbanization, and imperialism. Each small group should then be given a few minutes to review the concept in general, find an example from earlier lessons, and report this to the class as a whole. The instructor should then present a slide lecture about the zocalo, during which the students concentrate on identifying new examples of their assigned theme. Following the slide lecture, the subgroup members should be given some time to discuss the examples of the concept they viewed in the pictures. Once this is accomplished, each group should report back to the entire class, focusing its remarks on the data from the Oaxacan zocalo in the context of previously learned world history concepts.


Slide Lecture:

Streets Running at Right Angles from the Zocalo


Colonial Street Grid Running Off Zocalo

Governor's Palace On the South Side of the Zocalo


Arcaded Shops along the East and West Sides of the Zocalo

Roman Catholic Cathedral on the North End of the Zocalo


Constructed Knowledge Examples from the Lesson

• Concept of Continuity: Streets at right angles from the zocalo are an adaptation from 5th-century b.c.e. Greece

• Concept of Cultural Diffusion: Catholic Cathedral is the only place of worship on the zocalo

• Concept of Absolute Monarchy: Zocalo had to have open portales on the east and west sides according to the laws of the 16th century c.e. Spanish King

• Concept of Urbanization: City planning based on Italian Renaissance urban grid system

• Concept of Imperialism: Presence of Spanish governor and his troops on the zocalo

     The lesson should end with a teacher summary of the emphasized themes and the Oaxacan examples. For homework, the students should add the Oaxacan examples to their cumulative notebook lists of world history themes and examples.


     If the educational goal is to develop the cognitive skill of compare/contrast thinking, the world history of Oaxacan clothing would be a useful teaching tool. The lesson may commence with the placement of a visual organizer on the whiteboard, and this should be structured as follows:


     The instructions to the students are quite simple: if some data about Oaxacan clothing are only pre-Hispanic, these go in the left-hand column; if only post-Hispanic, the data should be placed in the far right column; and if some data date from both periods, they should be placed in the middle, unlabeled column. Once the students understand how to use the graphic organizer, they should view a slide lecture on Oaxacan clothing in world history. Individual students should fill in their visual organizers as the slide lecture progresses, with the educator making sure that time for thought is allowed after every slide.


     Once the presentation and specific, factually based questions from students are finished, the students should be paired up to see whether their completed graphic organizers are similar. If not, the pairs can discuss their disagreements and modify their charts as they see fit. The following homework assignment is to answer this question: Did Oaxacan clothing change radically or basically remain unchanged as a result of the Spanish conquest of the region in the early 16th-century c.e.? The subsequent class will commence with a full class discussion of this question, during which students will have to support their claims with evidence from the visual organizers. The educator should close the two-day learning activity by emphasizing that the cognitive skill being developed is compare/contrast thinking. However, astute teachers will readily realize that the world history thinking skill of continuity and change could also be easily addressed in this context.


 Relationships Over Time and Place

     One of the essential world history thinking skills is the ability to recognize the influence of events from one time and place on successive events in the same place or very far away. The narrative of the Oaxacan zocalo presents a great opportunity to foster this important, domain-specific cognitive skill. The instructor may commence the lesson by placing the following list of events in correct chronological order on the whiteboard and in the students' notebooks:

Ancient Greek Stoa - c. 450 b.c.e.

Ancient Roman Military Camps - c. 100 c.e.

Early Christian Churches - c. 400 c.e.

Renaissance Humanism - c. 1450 c.e.

Voyages of Columbus - c. 1500 c.e.

Conquest of the Mexica by Cortez - c. 1521 c.e.

Spanish Crown's Absolute Power - c. 1530s c.e.

Catholic Church's Counter-Reformation - c. 1550 c.e.

     For instructional purposes, let us assume that all the above events have been studied in the course of the world history survey and all have been correctly placed on the students' global notebook timelines for world history.


     The entire class should then be broken up into eight smaller groups of three to four students per subgroup, depending on the size of the class. Each subgroup should be assigned one of the previously studied events from the list and should be directed to find any relationship between their event and the Oaxacan zocalo that will be discussed in a slide lecture. Following the slide lecture narrated by the teacher, the subgroups should be given some time to discuss any relationships they have identified. Group members will then be asked to articulate and explain the relationship that they perceive between their assigned event and the Oaxacan main square. The remainder of the class will listen to the discussion of relationships and fill in their lists, which will look like this when completed:

Ancient Greek Stoa - c. 450 b.c.e. - style of covered merchant colonnades in zocalo

Ancient Roman Military Camps - c. 100 c.e. - rectangular shape of the zocalo

Early Christian Churches - c. 400 c.e. - west-to-east orientation of the Catholic cathedral on the zocalo

Renaissance Humanism - c. 1450 c.e. - Ancient Roman Vitruvian proportion used on the cathedral's façade

Voyages of Columbus - c. 1500 c.e. - presence of the Spanish in Mesoamerica

Conquest of the Mexica by Cortez - 1521 c.e. - Oaxaca City as second Spanish city in colonial New Spain

Spanish Crown's Absolute Power - 1530s c.e. - zocalo built according to the plans of the Spanish King, Philip the Second

Catholic Church's Counter-Reformation - c. 1550s c.e. - Baroque ornamentation on the two main altars of the cathedral

     During the entire discussion above, the educator should tap on a wall poster of world history thinking skills, indicating that the type of cognitive activity taking place in the learning activity is relationships between events over time and place. This activity of the teacher addresses the thinking skill of metacognition, which means that students are functioning at two cognitive levels simultaneously. While seeing, for example, the relationship of the Counter-Reformation to the Baroque interior of the cathedral, they are also becoming more aware of the cognitive skill they are developing.


 Multiple Causation

     Many young students who are new to the discipline of history develop the simplistic notion that causation in human experience is monocausal. Consider the influence of the phrase "cause and effect," which may possibly be employed by the students' educators. World history teachers should carefully develop the broader theme of multiple causation in their lessons. A well-planned learning activity on colonial talavera pottery in Oaxaca can begin to address this issue quite well.

The lesson may begin by showing the students this beautiful example of colonial talavera pottery from Oaxaca City.


Once the students are quite clear about the talavera details, they should be asked to copy the following timeline in their notebooks:


Codes: C.A - Central Asia, E.A.- East Asia, M.E. - Middle East, AF.- Africa, W.E. - Western Europe, L.A. - Latin America, S.E.A. - Southeast Asia

The next step in this lesson is to break the entire class into ten smaller groups of two to three members, depending on the size of the class. Each smaller group should be assigned a date and an event on the above timeline as follows:

Group 1 - c. 500 c.e. - Silk Roads

Group 2 - c. 650 c.e. - Rise of Islam

Group 3 - c. 720 c.e. - Moors in Spain

Group 4 - c. 750 c.e. - Abbasid Dynasty in Baghdad

Group 5 - c. 800 c.e. - Chinese Porcelain in Abbasid Capital, Baghdad

Group 6 - c. 850 c.e. - Muslim Tin Glaze Process Developed in Baghdad

Group 7 - c. 1100 c.e. - Muslim Kiln, Potter's Wheel, and Tin Glaze Process to Spain

Group 8 - c. 1500 c.e. - Voyages of Columbus

Group 9 - c. 1521 c.e. - Cortez Over the Mexica

Group 10 - c. 1571 c.e. - Beginning of Manila Galleon Long-Distance Trade


     The task for the subgroup members is to research/review the data about the assigned topic and identify a partial causal relationship between the Oaxacan talavera and the assigned event. Once the groups have had ample time to research and discuss their tasks, the teacher should conduct a large-class discussion in which the group members will present their findings on the causation of the talavera industry in 16th-century c.e. Mexico.

     As the discussion ensues, note-taking should take place on this visual organizer, which the educator will place on the whiteboard and fill in during the discussion. Students will fill in theirs as they listen to their peers' presentations.


     The learning experience should be brought to a close by the instructor, who should emphasize the core world history understanding of multiple causation in human affairs. In addition, the teacher could ask the students to reinforce their conceptual understanding of the field by requiring them to find examples of these previously learned discipline-specific concepts on the graphic organizer: long-distance trade, cultural diffusion, technological diffusion, and imperialism.

 Multiple Perspectives

     One of the most important thinking skills for world history students is the ability to view the same event through different cultural lenses. This cognitive skill enhances one's ability to understand conflict situations in the past, but it also has great resonance for the present and future experiences of our students. Most of them will live in a United States society that is quickly becoming more multicultural in terms of its values. People who have developed the thinking skill of recognizing and understanding multiple perspectives should experience a more rewarding life in the United States of the 21st century.


     Early modern Oaxacan history can certainly be used to develop this cognitive skill in our students. The lesson should revolve around the conquest of the Mexica by Cortez in 1521 c.e. The entire class should be broken up into four smaller groups of about six to seven students per subgroup, depending on the aggregate size of the class. Once this organization has been completed, a second one should commence in which the subgroups are further divided into sets of working pairs or trios. The final preparation step would be to assign a general role to the students in each of the four subgroups as follows:

Group 1 - Zapotecs

Group 2 - Dominican Priests in Spain

Group 3 - Tlaxcalan Indigenous

Group 4 - World Historians in the Present

     Once the roles are assigned, the teacher should deliver this specific background historical data to the students, which will make their role playing more realistic. For about fifty years before 1521 c.e., the Zapotecs in the Oaxacan Valleys were under the threat of Aztec military conquest and had been paying tribute to the Mexica in Tenochtitlan. The Spanish Dominicans found themselves bound to a traditional, religious belief system that was being severely challenged by the nascent Protestant Reformation throughout Western Europe, whereas the Tlaxcalans, who were neighbors of the Mexica in central Mexico and who were being exploited by their neighbors, had actually allied with Cortez against the Mexica. Finally, world historians of today would have great interest in the cross-regional aspects of the conquest.

     After all this background work is completed, the subgroups should be instructed to sit in a specific section of the classroom based upon the following map, which will be on the whiteboard as a guide:


     As you look at this map of the geographical context of the conquest of the Mexica, it will become obvious that the floor of the classroom is being used as a global map, and students will develop a much clearer geographical perspective of this event in terms of the specifics and world history in general if this teaching technique is employed on a regular basis during the course.

     The next step in this set of learning activities is for the educator to narrate the conquest of the Mexica by the Spanish under Cortez in 1521 c.e., which was greatly facilitated by the military assistance of the Tlaxcalan warriors. The students should then be asked to copy this graphic organizer from the whiteboard and to use it for note-taking purposes in the subsequent discussion:


     The task of each group is to decide what the view of its assigned role would have been regarding Cortez's conquest of the Aztecs. Pairs should accomplish this task separately for about ten minutes, and then all the pairs within the subgroups should come to some level of consensus on their assigned role's view of the conquest. This second consensus-building discussion should take about ten minutes and should emphasize the rationale for the chosen perspectives.

     The learning activity should be brought to a conclusion by the instructor, who will frame the input from the groups based on the application of the visual organizer. The Zapotecs will probably welcome the Conquistadors as liberators, whereas the Dominicans will view all the indigenous groups in Mexico as potential new Catholics, and the Tlaxcalans will be quite happy to loot the Mexica capital, Tenochtitlan. World historians will see Spanish imperialism and Dominican cultural diffusion as examples of cross-regional encounters in the event. The teacher should bring the lesson to a close by emphasizing that the students experienced multiple perspectives in their role playing.


 Continuity and Change

     If you want to teach your students the important world history understanding of continuity and change, the Oaxacan cathedral provides a fine example. Change exudes from the edifice, as it does in much historical research and teaching in all subfields of history, including world history. Continuity is almost ignored by most historians, and it shouldn't be, because approximately half of what we observe in history at any given time and place is composed of ideas and aspects of tradition that people value and continue to use.

For classroom teaching purposes, the educator would begin with the following visual organizer:


     For the next step in this learning process, the instructor should split up the entire class into two halves and assign one half of the students to identify Post-Cortez changes in the Oaxacan cathedral, while the other half of the students should concentrate on indigenous aspects of the edifice that didn't change after 1521 c.e. Once this organization is completed, the students should be shown this PowerPoint collection of visuals dealing with the cathedral in Oaxaca City, which they will use as their evidence base to accomplish their assigned task.

Post-Cortez Aspects





The Most Important Chapel in the Cathedral is that of the Lord of the Ray, Which is a Synthesis of the Roman Catholic Jesus and the Zapotec God of Lightening, Cocijo

     The pictures of the cathedral should be followed by a large-class discussion led by the instructor, in which the students, in turn, articulate the examples of the post-conquest and pre-conquest aspects of the edifice. As these architectural examples are articulated, all the students should fill in the visual organizer as follows:


     The lesson should be brought to closure by the teacher using the completed visual organizer as an example of the important world history realization that most significant change in the human narrative is usually accompanied by aspects of tradition that people refuse to give up.

 Historical Sense

     One of the difficult aspects of teaching any history in the developed West of the present is the tendency of some educators and many students to view decisions made in the past through the perspective of 2016 c.e. values and knowledge. This ahistorical view, known as presentism, is definitely alive and well in the writings of people who attempt to use history as a tool for influencing public opinion on important and controversial issues. Consequently, it is incumbent on the part of world history teachers to develop a proper historical sense in their students.

     This essential, discipline-specific thinking skill has two equally important aspects. The first is the recognition that the past was a place and time when people had very different scientific knowledge and cultural values than the ones that dominate early 21stcentury c.e. Western society. The related second understanding of a historical sense is to purposefully work against presentism in terms of evaluating past behavior. The goal of this cognitive skill is to attempt to view situations in the past through the scientific and cultural lenses available to the decision makers at the time and place under consideration. In no way is this an attempt to whitewash or excuse egregious past decisions; rather, it is simply an application of the historical method to past behavior, much of which was terribly inhumane in nature.

     The thinking skill of historical sense may be well cultivated in the world history classroom by focusing on two examples from Oaxacan Catholic Church history. Both of these date from the early Spanish colonial period of the 16th century c.e. The common factor in these developments is that certain decisions relative to each situation would be considered unacceptable and, in some cases, unethical according to present Western standards of behavior.


     In the early 16th century c.e., the Spanish Dominican Order was given the responsibility of converting the thousands of Zapotec and Mixtec native groups living in the Oaxacan valleys. One of their first actions toward this goal was to identify all the locations of the indigenous, animist temples in the area and build a Catholic church right on top of the sacred Amerindian site. In many cases, it took the Dominicans from fifty to a hundred years to finish their huge places of worship. Upon completion, many of these Catholic edifices were decorated in the popular, Western European Baroque style of the 17th century c.e. The selection of this Baroque aesthetic made all the sense in the world to the Spanish friars of the period, but it resulted in their churches becoming the most expensive and ornately decorated buildings in early modern Antequera-Oaxaca. Silver altar lamps; golden retablos; huge, colorful frescoes; and expensive cut-stone flooring all added to the Baroque goal of appealing to one's sense of sight. However, the Zapotec and Mixtec converts had to live in very humble houses outside the official limits of the Spanish city. It would be very easy for an instructor from the early 21st century c.e. to contrast the Catholic churches with the modest dwellings of the indigenous people and evaluate the decision of the Dominicans as one lacking in Christian charity and Post-Enlightenment social equality.

     A second teaching opportunity for the development of a historical sense in world history students relates to the narrative of San Pablo Templo in Mitla, Oaxaca State. During the 16th century c.e., the Dominican friars built this church directly on top of a Zapotec indigenous palace as the following pictures will validate:


     Once the visual evidence of the construction of the Catholic Church on top of the indigenous palace has been shown and discussed, the educator should evaluate this event through an early-21st-century Western perspective. The construction should be termed a human rights abuse and a clear example of cultural superiority that violated the patrimony of the indigenous. Most of the students will be familiar with the values behind this evaluation and will most likely agree with the description.


     The next step in the lesson would be for the instructor to assume the role of one of the 16th-century c.e. Dominicans who built San Pablo, and he or she should answer questions from the students relative to the justification for this decision. In response to this hypothetical challenge, the early modern friar would point to his belief that he was representing the one true deity and that the construction of the place of worship was the result of doing God's work. He would also describe the earlier indigenous palace as a place containing images of false gods, perhaps even evil deities, that had to be destroyed. Finally, he would emphasize that the church was the vehicle for converting the Zapotecs and Mixtecs to Catholicism, which would be their path to eternal salvation, according to the Catholic belief system.

     Closure should be brought to this learning activity by the teacher, who will emphasize that the lesson was an example of the thinking skill of a historical sense. The educator should go further in the summary by stressing that the goal of this cognitive activity is not to justify any past decision or behavior but to better understand it in the context of the time, place, and values of the main actors in the event.

 Influence of World History on the Present

     One of the legitimate questions raised by many world history students over the years is, why do we have to study the past? "The people are gone," "They did some strange things," and "We live in a modern age" are some of the statements that come up consistently. These are valid and honest objections from young people, and they present educators with a great opportunity to develop an important thinking skill for the world history classroom.


     This cognitive skill is the ability to see the influence of the past on the present. In response to the above questions, I suggest that teachers paraphrase the thoughts of one of the great United States literary figures of the 20th century c.e., William Faulkner, who opined that the past is not dead and that, in fact, it is not even the past. This insight should be followed with some questions for the doubting students. These questions should include the following: How come we write using the A, B, C's? Why do we count using the 1, 2, 3 system? Why do we speak English or whatever the lingua franca of the classroom is? The answers should be placed by the educator on a global timeline, through which the young people can realize that the alphabet and number systems in use in their culture come from approximately two thousand years ago, with the alphabet being ancient Roman and the numbers being ancient Indian. English, for example, may be traced to the synthesis of ancient German c. 400 c.e. and medieval French c. 1100 c.e. that took place after the Norman Conquest in England. After this discussion, most students begin to consider "the present" in a very different light.

     Once the students see the value of this type of thinking, it can certainly be reinforced by a study of the influence of Islamic garden design in Oaxaca City. This learning activity should begin with the students looking at this diagram of an Ancient Persian charbagh garden design from c. 500 b.c.e

     This design was developed during the Achaemenid Empire c. 500 b.c.e. in Ancient Persia, where it had very important political and cultural symbolic meaning. The next garden to be viewed is from Ronda, Andalucia, Spain:



     The lesson should be concluded by an educator summary, in which the emphasis is placed on the cognitive skill of recognizing the influence of the past on the present. For homework and/or extra credit, students could be challenged to find examples of this process in their own neighborhoods, no matter where they live. Attention must be paid to supportive evidence of the connections that is properly cited.



     The academic definition of this cognitive skill is the ability to function simultaneously at two thinking levels. In other words, students should be able to identify the type of thinking they are involved in as they are actively participating in an activity.

     A model of developing metacognition may be built around a study of the La Soledad Basilica in Oaxaca City. The Virgin of Soledad is the protectress of the city, and there is a huge church and pilgrimage site devoted to her worship in the western section of the centro. Her statue's garments, which are changed according to the ecclesiastical calendar of the Catholic Church, were originally Chinese embroidered robes by way of the Manila Galleons. The image of the grieving virgin at the foot of the cross is Middle Eastern/Greek in origin from the New Testament gospels. The miraculous narrative of the creation of the Soledad story is one of the many Catholic, Counter-Reformation miracle stories that developed in 16th-century c.e. Nueva España. After all these data have been taught to the students, the teacher can employ the following visual organizer to reinforce the world history theme of cultural synthesis:


     While the educator is clarifying the relationship between the newly learned Soledad narrative to the thinking skill of constructed knowledge, one of the students should be encouraged to tap on the name of this cognitive skill, which is listed on a poster in the front of the classroom. This poster has the names of all the important thinking skills in the course and is used as a metacognitive reference point during the entire school year13. In this way, students will gradually develop the skill of recognizing the type of thinking that they are employing in the present moment. A model of this cognitive skill list would look like this:

Constructed Knowledge

Compare / Contrast

Relationships Over Time and Place

Multiple Causation

Multiple Perspectives

Continuity / Change

Historical Sense

Influence of the Past on the Present


 Classroom Teaching Models

Content Selection for One Lesson

     One of the key issues for world history teachers at all levels of instruction is the task of selecting content for one teaching/learning session. Let us assume that educators have a fifty-minute lesson to plan and that they have eight pages of content on the subject under consideration. How does one decide to include certain data and exclude the majority of the available information? Why not teach it all, one may ask? This is an impossibility when one is teaching a world history survey course, because the narrative must move along steadily and cannot focus on one topic over a prolonged series of lessons. Informed deletion of data must occur.

     Obviously, these instructors require a sound method to follow in lesson content selection. If they try to teach all that they know on a certain topic, they will find this self-defeating. If they have a state or district curriculum, they may address only what this document calls for. In many cases, there is a statewide examination in world history, and many teachers religiously teach only what has been assessed in the past. It is certainly pragmatic to teach topics in the prescribed course of study and content that have been consistently assessed on statewide exams. However, if educators go solely down these paths, their teaching may lack creativity and a personal touch. The author strongly suggests a third selection process that brings the instructor's own conceptual view of the discipline to the task.


     Let us consider the content selection process for a lesson from a prescribed curriculum that calls for a focus on cultural diffusion in early modern Nueva España. Teachers could decide to teach their students about the diffusion of Catholicism, the Spanish language, the Latin alphabet, Spanish sombreros, and so on in fifty minutes. This would probably lead to data overload for the students, thereby creating a very poor learning experience. It would be preferable to select three solid examples of cultural diffusion and use these as the core data for the lesson.

     In the Oaxacan context, the teachers' choices might be as follows. For the first third of the lesson, they would employ a map of Dominican churches built in Oaxaca State during the 16th century c.e. This information should be identified as examples of Spanish cultural diffusion to Nueva España.


     The second segment of the learning experience should concentrate on Carmen Alto Templo in Oaxaca City, which was built in c. 1699 c.e. right on top of an indigenous sacred site dedicated to Centeotl the indigenous goddess of corn and agriculture. The idea of cultural diffusion should be reinforced here, but this image also provides an opportunity to develop the related theme of cultural imperialism.

Finally, the students should look at an image that mixes pre-Spanish and Catholic iconography located in an important Spanish church in Oaxaca City.


     This is the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the Templo de Santo Domingo in Oaxaca City c. 1600 c.e. She is the most important religious and national symbol in the entire country. The inclusion of this image in the lesson will allow the educator to not only address cultural diffusion but to also develop the important and related theme of cultural synthesis.

 Rationale for Content Selection

     There is much to emphasize in this model of lesson content selection. The teacher who made these choices probably has ten pages of available data on the topic of cultural diffusion in early modern Nueva España. All this information cannot be taught in one fifty-minute secondary lesson, and most of it has been omitted. All the deleted data have inherent value to the topic, but do not fit the educator's view of the lesson. Obviously, the state mandate to address cultural diffusion has been followed, but there is much more to learn here. The instructor has followed his or her perspective on the discipline of world history and has selected images that allow for the reinforcement of other core themes of the field, such as cultural imperialism and cultural synthesis. This lesson will teach the prescribed state data, but it will also reflect the perspective on the field that the teacher intends to communicate to the students.


 Lesson Planning for One Fifty Minute Secondary Lesson

     Once the content for a lesson is selected, the next obvious step for the teacher is the actual lesson planning. Planning is key because it sets the foundation for student learning. At a pragmatic level, educators should not let the perfect be the enemy of the very good. Preparation time for a secondary teacher is quite limited, and none of it should be wasted trying to design the perfect lesson. It is much better to develop a planning system that produces good lessons and improves one's planning capability over time. The following fifty-minute lesson plan will be deconstructed at the end for the purpose of identifying the core principles of the task. Most secondary teaching periods last for approximately fifty minutes. If the school organization calls for longer teaching sessions, as in block scheduling, the number of learning activities can be increased to address the allotted time period.

 Secondary Lesson Plan- Cultural Diffusion to Early Modern Oaxaca, Mexico

     Activity One: Combined timeline skill work and instructor red-tape responsibilities: e.g., attendance, notes, and so on. Length - 5 minutes


Are these statements accurate or inaccurate based on the above timeline? Answers must include proof.

1. Columbus came to the Americas in 1491 c.e.

2. Columbus came to the Americas in the late 15th century c.e.

3. Cortez's conquering of the Aztecs occurred after the voyage of Columbus

4. Cortez's victory could have led to the Dominicans coming to Oaxaca

Activity Two: Homework Assignment – Read text pp. 310–314 re Colonial Mexico, and find examples of these previously learned world history themes: cultural diffusion, cultural imperialism, and cultural synthesis in the data - 5 minutes. Total lesson time: 10 minutes

Activity Three:

1. Have students look at this image of the Dominican churches built in 16th-century c.e. Oaxaca :


2. Teacher-led discussion of the examples of cultural diffusion on the map—for example, Spanish Catholicism to Oaxaca, Dominican architecture to Oaxaca, and Spanish language to Oaxaca - 10 minutes. Total lesson time: 20 minutes

Activity Four:

1. Educator breaks class into groups of five students each

2. Educator shows students these images of Carmen Alto, Oaxaca City:

3. Students in groups use the world history concept section of their notebooks and, through discussion, identify examples of any previously learned world history themes in the above images

4. Students participate in intragroup discussions concerning Carmen Alto and previously learned world history concepts

5. Teacher leads a discussion in which the students identify examples of world history themes in the images. If the students do not reference the concept of cultural imperialism, the educator will emphasize the idea and its obvious example in the Carmen Alto complex - 15 minutes. Total lesson time: 35 minutes


Activity Five:

1. Show the students this visual organizer and have them copy it into their notebooks:

2. Give all the students the task of listening attentively and placing any indigenous aspect of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the left-hand side of the graphic organizer and any Spanish details in the corresponding right-hand section of the diagram

3. Show the students this image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which is in the Templo de Santo Domingo, Oaxaca City - c. 1600 c.e.


4. Teacher-led discussion of the image:

A) Discussion of 1531 c.e. miracle/belief of Catholic Church

B) Spanish Influence - 1. Image from the Book of Revelations - New Testament - c. 50 c.e.; 2. woman standing on a crescent moon, clothed by the sun with twelve stars in her crown are all from the Book of Revelations, Chapter 12, Verse 1; 3. A Post-Classic Spanish Catholic image of the Immaculate Conception

C) Indigenous Symbolism- 1. Blue-green mantle for indigenous gods only; 2. Rays of the sun god around virgin; 3. Dark skin color similar to indigenous complexion; 4. Standing on and controlling the moon god of darkness; 5. On the shoulders of an angel - only indigenous elites were carried by others.


5. Filled-in visual organizer on whiteboard and in students' notebooks would look like this:

6. Educator should emphasize the example of the world history theme of cultural synthesis in the Guadalupe image - 10 minutes; 45-minute lesson


Activity Six:

1. Students conclude the lesson by reflecting on the entire lesson and writing what they have learned of significance about world history in today's lesson - 5 minutes. Total lesson time: 50 minutes

Principles of Lesson Planning Demonstrated in the Model Lesson

1. Use of content-specific skill work at the beginning of the lesson to get students' minds on the subject and to allow the teacher to accomplish necessary bureaucratic tasks simultaneously

2. Emphasis on accuracy and evidence in skill work

3. Assignment and explanation of homework at the start of the lesson to ensure that students understand the task and the relevance of the homework to today's lesson

4. Three different learning activities in a fifty-minute lesson to address the short attention spans of the students

5. Required teacher discipline to move lesson through the three learning activities

6. Use of map, architecture, diagrams, painting and visual organizers to address the visually oriented students

7. Application of constructed learning theory in activity three, in which students are asked to reinforce the previously learned concept of cultural diffusion with examples from a previously unseen map

8. Use of cooperative learning in activity four to address the socially oriented students

9. Use of students' verbal input in activity four to address the orally oriented students

10. Use of notebook concept list in activity four to address constructed learning theory, as in #7 above

11. Use of visual in activity five to be filled in to address the kinesthetically oriented students


12. Emphasis on listening in activity five to develop the listening skills of all students

13. Individualizing learning by asking students to reflect on the entire lesson and write down important aspects of their learning, some of which will be read aloud at the beginning of the next lesson

14. Necessity for teacher to properly pace the lesson to accomplish all aspects of the lesson plan

 National Council for the Social Studies C3/Common Core Framework Application

     During the past five years, significant changes have been made in social studies secondary education in the United States. These changes have occurred as a result of the Common Core movement, which has greatly emphasized the improvement of literacy among all students in the United States. For history teachers, this Common Core emphasis has brought about one important alteration in their approach to teaching. Whereas in the past, educators used primary source documents as one of many teaching tools, the Common Core has made the use of complex texts a main vehicle for instruction. Obviously, this laudable focus relates directly to the renewed emphasis on developing college and career-ready literacy skills for all students. The other two core aspects of this national movement are an emphasis on developing sophisticated thinking skills and nurturing the ability of students to develop cogent, well-supported historical arguments. Both of these have been traditionally consistent goals of secondary history teachers and, therefore, do not require any fundamental change in instructional approach.

     Within the past two years, the National Council for Social Studies has responded to the Common Core development with a new framework for secondary social studies that has incorporated the two C's of college and career readiness in literacy with a third C that corresponds to citizenship training. This NCSS C3 Framework emphasizes student research and conclusions rather than the memorization of conclusions made by others, such as textbook authors.


     Specifically, the NCSS C3 program places a keen focus on the development of research questions by students; these will then act as guides for the search for evidence in complex texts. Once the credibility of sources has been established and primary source data have been identified as relevant evidence, the students should be instructed toward developing well-supported, cogent historical arguments in written, oral, and other forms of expression. With all this background as prologue, we will now consider a set of C3 learning activities that examine a very interesting primary source about 17th century c.e. Oaxaca.

C3 Framework/Early Modern Oaxaca Application

Step 1 – Designing the Research Question

     The NCSS recommendation is for students to design their own research questions, which will then prompt their research and conclusions. While the author considers this to be a laudable goal, students' ability to accomplish this complex set of tasks will be a function of maturity and experience. Most secondary students will need models designed by educators to follow. Consequently, instructors should take this opportunity to fashion research questions that address three significant aspects of learning. The first is to make sure that the research question directly relates to the content to be taught from a school district and/or state curriculum guide. If teachers do not have to follow such a curriculum, they have much more academic freedom than most secondary world history educators. Once this bureaucratic responsibility is attended to, the instructor has two more creative choices to make. Because the students are studying world history, the research question should emphasize one or more of the core conceptual understandings of the discipline, which will relate to the metanarrative of the subject that the teacher intends to communicate. The second choice relates to the sophisticated type of thinking that will be developed in this set of learning activities.


Step 2 – Research Question and Rationale

Research Question: Is Thomas Gage's Journal of 1648 c.e. Oaxaca a True World History Narrative?

Rationale: The state and/or district curriculum guide calls for the treatment of the Columbian Exchange, and Gage's text addresses this requirement directly. In terms of the metanarrative that the educator intends to communicate about the discipline, Gage's book has specific examples of three core world history processes: flora diffusion, fauna diffusion, and long-distance trade. This learning activity reinforces the sophisticated thinking skill of constructed learning.In other words, students have already learned the meaning of the three aforementioned core world history processes, and they are expected to take the brand-new data from the primary text and connect these to the proper mental construct. In doing so, they will be giving the new information personal meaning based on their conceptual understanding of the field.

Step 3 – Creation of Essay Rubric

     An essay rubric is a very versatile learning tool. In this set of learning activities, it will initially serve as a guide for purposeful reading of a primary text. As students consider the relative point values for this written historical argument, the point will be clearly made that historical claims must be supported by relevant, specific, and accurate evidence. Later on, the rubric could serve as the basis of fruitful classroom discussions. Its most practical usage will be as a blueprint for student writing of a cogent historical argument. The extra credit options address the proper use of the specific vocabulary of the discipline, which is an absolute key to learning the subject. They also incentivize students' research initiative, which is admittedly a desirable goal.

Step 4 – Essay Rubric

Task: Is Thomas Gage's Journal of 1648 c.e. Oaxaca a World History Narrative?

A) Students should write out the task in simpler terms to make sure that they will address the task

B) Introductory Paragraph - 10 points

1. Time and Place of Document - 5 points

2. Specific Claim of Essay - 5 points


C) Support Paragraph - Flora Diffusion - 25 points

1. Topic Sentence that Addresses Claim - 4 points

2. Evidence - 7 points

3. Evidence - 7 points

4. Evidence - 7 points

D) Support Paragraph - Fauna Diffusion - 25 points

1. Topic Sentence that Addresses Claim - 4 points

2. Evidence - 7 points

3. Evidence - 7 points

4. Evidence - 7 points

E) Support Paragraph - Long-Distance Trade - 25 points

1. Topic Sentence that Addresses Claim - 4 points

2. Evidence - 7 points

3. Evidence - 7 points

4. Evidence - 7 points

F) Conclusion - 15 points

1. Restatement of Claim - 5 points

2. Significance of Topic in World History - 10 points


N.B.: All supportive evidence must be specific, relevant, and accurate

Extra Credit Options

1. Correct and highlighted use of world history vocabulary from vocabulary notebook section

2. Additional cited, supportive evidence that is not from Gage's book

Step Five – Thomas Gage's Biography

     As an introduction to the reading of the primary text, the teacher should articulate the highlights of Gage's biography. The students should be given the task of listening carefully to his background and identifying any aspects of his life that may affect the credibility of the document.

     Thomas Gage came from an elite, Catholic English family that did not switch to the Church of England during the English Reformation of Henry Tudor in 1535 c.e. All of his male siblings became Catholic priests, and his father sent him to the Low Countries to become a member of the Society of Jesus. Gage rejected the Jesuits but did join the Dominican Order of Preachers and volunteered to serve in their Philippine missions. On the way to Manila, he changed his mind and stayed in Nueva España for a decade. Following this sojourn in New Spain, he made his way back to England, where he quickly disavowed his Catholic identity and joined the ascendant Puritans under Oliver Cromwell. He proved his sincere Protestant conviction by turning state's evidence against three former associates of his who were accused of holding private masses in people's homes. Cromwell subsequently executed all three. Upon completion of this short biography, the educator should commence a full class discussion on any aspects of Gage's life that should be considered concerning his journal's credibility.


Step 6 – Model of Visual Organizer to Address Document Credibility

Since most young history students focus on the text of primary sources and, in many cases, accept them at face value, the instructor must emphasize the importance of a source's context in terms of its credibility. A visual, such as the following, will greatly assist in this basic task.


Step 7 – Specific Visual Organizer to Address Gage's Credibility


Step 8- Discussion of Gage's Credibility for Research Question

     Once all the above aspects of the book's context are clearly understood, the teacher may lead a discussion about the credibility of Thomas Gage's book as a source for the research question. The relationship between the text and the research question is key because the text is obviously biased concerning certain aspects of its description of early modern New Spain. The fact that it was written for 17th-century c.e. Puritans in a country that was vehemently anti-Catholic at the time should give any researcher pause. Nevertheless, it may contain some potential evidence for the research task.

     At this point, the educator should ask the students to work in informal pairs or trios and discuss this aspect of the work's credibility: Are there any firsthand observations of Gage that relate directly to the research task and are probably untouched by his obvious anti-Catholic bias? After about ten minutes of this small-group discussion, the instructor should open up the conversation to the class as a whole. With teacher guidance, the students should be led to the realization that the text may indeed contain accurate observations about fauna diffusion, flora diffusion, and long-distance trade in 17th-century c.e. Oaxaca that may qualify as evidence for the eventual historical argument.

Step 9- Explanation of Scaffoldded Reading of Complex Text

     The C3/Common Core goal of developing the skill of reading and comprehending complex historical texts in all students is both laudable and quite difficult. Since the reading levels of high school students in any class will vary, it is helpful to supply some assistance to the less-developed readers in the form of scaffolding. As students progress through the school year and improve this set of reading skills, they will probably need fewer and fewer of these assistance methods.

Step 10-Scaffolded Reading of Thomas Gage's Text

     This lesson model employs two types of student assistance. The first will be a set of domain-specific terms that the students may not know. These will be printed in capital letters to alert the readers, and the basic definition of each will be below the text. The second type of scaffold will be a set of general terms that the readers should be able to figure out the meaning of from the context of the sentence. These works will be printed in italics to signal the readers.


Thomas Gage: Travels in the New World, edited by J. Eric S. Thompson. Copyright 1958 University of Oklahoma Press. Reproduced with Permission. All Rights Reserved.14

A) p. 111 - All the way we did observe a very fruitful soil for both Indian and Spanish wheat, much sugar, much cotton-wool, honey and here and there some Cochineal and of Plantains, and other sweet and luscious fruit in great store, but above all great abundance of cattle, whose hides are one of the greatest Commodities that are sent to Spain from these parts.

Cochineal - a red dye from Oaxacan insects that the Spanish sold all over the world

Plantains - a relative of the banana from West Africa

Commodities - objects bought and sold in trade

B) pp. 111–112 - The valley is full of sheep and other cattle which yields much wool to the clothiers of the City of Angels, stores of hides to the merchants of Spain and great provisions of flesh to the city of Oaxaca and all the towns about … But what doth make the Valley of Oaxaca to be mentioned far and near are the good horses that are bred in it, and esteemed to be the best in all the country. In this Valley also are some farms of sugar, and great store of fruits, which two sorts meeting together have cried up the city of Oaxaca for the best Conserves and preserves that are made in America.

City of Angels - Puebla, Mexico about sixty miles east of Mexico City

Conserves - fruit stewed in sugar to preserve it


C) p. 112 - Here are also two Cloisters of nuns, which are talked about far and near, not for their religious practices, but for their skill in making two drinks, which are used in these parts, the one called chocolate and the other atole … But the other, chocolate, is made up in boxes, and sent out not only to Mexico and the parts thereabouts, but much of it is yearly transported into Spain.

Cloister - a group of nuns living together in a community

Mexico - the name of Mexico City, the capital of the colony

Step 11- Use of Documentary Evidence

     In terms of using Gage's text to teach world history, the educator can break a large class up into three groups. Each of the three groups should be assigned one of the three supportive paragraph sections of the essay rubric as follows: Group 1 should focus on flora diffusion, Group 2 should concentrate on fauna diffusion, and Group 3 should take long-distance trade. The homework assignment for all group members is to read Gage's text, as presented above; find specific, supportive evidence for their assigned rubric section; fill in the rubric; and bring the evidence to class the next day.

     With the blank rubric as a backdrop on the whiteboard, the instructor should commence a large-group discussion at the beginning of the next class on the main task of the essay that relates Gage's text to a true world history narrative. In turn, students from each reading group should share their research findings with the class as a whole. During this sharing, the teacher should supplement the student contributions with his or her own expertise on the topic. At the completion of the discussion, all students will have a completely filled-in rubric, which will serve as an excellent blueprint for the initial writing of the historical argument. These initial drafts will go through writer revision, peer revision, and teacher assessment, all of which will be facilitated by the rubric. Once the students receive all the above feedback, they will write their final historical argument.


Step 12- Completed Rubric Model

Paragraph 1 - Introduction - 10 Pts.

A) Thomas Gage - Oaxaca State - 1625–1638 C.E. - 5 Points

B) Claim - Definitely a World History Narrative Because it Addresses Flora Diffusion, Fauna Diffusion, and Long-Distance Trade - 5 Points

Paragraph 2 - Flora Diffusion - 25 Points

A) Many Examples of Movement of Plants from Afro–Eurasia to Oaxaca - 4 Points

B) Sugar - 7 Points\

C) Plantains- 7 Points

D) Wheat- 7 Points

Paragraph 3 - Fauna Diffusion - 25 Points

A) Many Examples of Movement of Animals from Afro–Eurasia to Oaxaca - 4 Points

B) Cattle - 7 Point

C) Sheep - 7 Points

D) Horses - 7 Points

Paragraph 4 – Long-Distance Trade - 25 Points

A) Many Examples of Commodity Exchange Between Oaxaca and Other Global Regions - 4 Points

B) Cattle Hides - 7 Points

C) Wool - 7 Points

D) Chocolate - 7 Points


Paragraph 5 Conclusion - 15 Points Restatement of Claim - 5 Points

A) Significance of Topic – Columbian Exchange in World History E.G. - 10 Points

Educational Principles Exhibited in Entire C3/Common Core Model Learning Activities:

1) The research question is an educator model that students can follow in the future

2) The essay task relates directly to the demands of the district/state curriculum

3) The essay task addresses the teacher's metanarrative of world history

4) The essay task requires the reinforcement of the cognitive skill of constructed learning

5) The rubric serves as a guide for the purposeful reading of a primary text

6) The essay task focuses specifically on historical research

7) The evidence required for the essay task must be specific, accurate, and relevant

8) The rubric calls for a wider perspective on the essay topic than the research question does

9) The two extra credit options for the essay incentivize the development of the vocabulary of the discipline and students' research initiative

10) Listening skills are specifically developed at least twice in the set of learning activities


11) The credibility visual organizer privileges the context of the book over the text

12) The credibility visual organizer addresses the visual learners in the class

13) Discussion skills are specifically developed at least twice in the set of learning activities

14) The skills necessary to read and understand complex texts are developed gradually for all student

15) Domain-specific terminology is scaffolded by the teacher

16) Cues for the use of context clues in reading are scaffolded by the teacher

17) The primary source excerpts have been carefully selected and prepared by the educator

18) The reading of the complex text is worked into the homework program of the instructor

19) The reading of the three primary source excerpts is divided among three smaller groups of students

20) The rubric serves as an excellent guide for classroom discussion

21) The culminating classroom discussion allows for the inclusion of teacher expertise on the topic

22) The rubric serves as a blueprint for the individual writing of the first draft of the essay

23) The rubric serves as a guide for writer revision, peer revision, and teacher assessment of the written argument

24) All the revisions add to the quality of the final written argument

25) The point is clearly made by the entire set of learning activities that historical arguments must be grounded in relevant, accurate, and specific evidence.

26) The entire set of learning activities is an example of active student learning, in which no knowledge has been handed to the students by the teacher



     There are three main benefits that a careful reading of this book will deliver to the reader. The notion of world history that is held by many is that the discipline is a detailed record of whatever transpired in the human past. The treatment of the subject in this work challenges this data-driven approach because it portrays world history as a cognitive, intellectual exercise. Second, the book directly addresses the core thinking skills that inform contemporary world history research and teaching. Finally, the work contains a veritable treasure trove of efficient, tested teaching ideas for the world history classroom.

     One could validly argue for other seminal contributions to the early development of the academic discourse of world history, but most disciplinary scholars would quickly add the work of William H. McNeill to their core list. The substantive and influential efforts of historians such as Jerry Bentley, Philip Curtin, and Alfred Crosby have all markedly influenced the field, and their influence is profound but implicit in this book.

     In the view of the author, one of the primary metanarratives that underlies most world history is McNeill's central insight, which he developed in his seminal work The Rise of the West in 1963. His thesis is basically that cross-regional contacts have been a major change agent in the human experience. The reader will readily acknowledge that this metanarrative is at the base of the world history scholarship in this study.

     Many times, academic distinctions are artificial, but they are necessary to make sense of a disjointed human experience. McNeill's insight has been broken down into four valid categories of cross-regional encounters in this book. The distinctions among political, economic, cultural, and biological links are made quite clear in this monograph. As a consequence of this academic exercise, world history scholar–educators are able to focus on one of these types of linkages in their research and/or teaching. The resultant depth of data afforded by a singular focus positively informs the dual scholarship of research and teaching, but it can also serve to mask an important human reality. Human experience is integrated as it is lived, and the reader must consciously keep this notion in mind while reading and reflecting upon the book's treatment of McNeill's metanarrative.


     World history, however, is much more complex than just a story of interregional contact. It is a set of serious, disciplinary intellectual issues, many of which are addressed in this publication. The core of any history, as seen by the ancient Greek historians, are time and place, and both concerns are given due attention in this monograph. Most world historians challenge any form of determinism, which is echoed in this text by its focus on human agency and contingency as causative factors in human affairs. Regarding historiography, world history is a revisionist exercise that is responding to the intellectual ferment of the 1960s. The careful reader will have noticed these contextual influences in the work's emphasis on topics such as biological contacts and indigenous history.

     In addition to the core understandings of the field that this volume addresses in detail, there are many other concepts of a global history nature that should be stressed, as specific examples of them appear in a survey course. As one considers the thirty-odd lessons in this work, many of these themes such as self-determination, mercantilism, and secularization become obvious. All these have merit in their own right and should be taught and/or reinforced as they develop organically in the course of teaching.

     Professor Wright's insight that local history can be an excellent entrée into world history also underlies this entire book. Early modern Oaxacan history is so rich in its own right that it requires a detailed focus of its own. Much of this fascinating local data have been specifically described in this monograph but have been purposively placed in a global context to address the primary emphasis in this text.


     The reader will readily perceive the affection and respect for Oaxacan history that the author has. However, it should be clear that the selections of Oaxacan history employed in this treatise are only fine examples of local history being used to comprehend and illustrate world history. One could easily select the local history of Lima, Antwerp, Sofala, Cochin, and Nagasaki, for example, to develop the same conceptual understandings of the discipline as stressed in this text.

     In addition to the core world history lessons to be gleaned from this monograph, the attentive reader will gain a clear picture of many of the fundamental aspects of early modern world history. Oaxaca was an important region in the globally connected Spanish colonial empire. Dominican missionaries came to Oaxaca City from Andalucia and left to staff missions in Manila, Philippines. Chinese fans came to Oaxaca by way of the Manila Galleons and moved to become part of the costume of Flamenco dancers in Sevilla, Spain. Obviously, the Spanish colonies were linked by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, which reinforces the significant role that the oceans played in the early modern period.

     The book's stress on nurturing disciplinary-specific thinking skills is based on the author's belief that they will greatly add to the quality of students' lives. Very few world history students will become world historians, but they will most likely have to employ sophisticated, cognitive skills in their careers and private lives. Perhaps they will develop a lifelong interest in world history and use these skills to enhance their studies and travels.

     This book has many strengths, but the emphasis on world history teaching methods should be very helpful for educators of the discipline at any level of study. This attention is comprehensive and could serve as a graduate course in the teaching of the subject. Serious readers have found models of essential teaching tools, such as the selection of content for a lesson, lesson planning, and classroom teaching techniques. In addition, the contemporary and nationwide C3 framework of the NCSS that addresses all the Common Core disciplinary literacy skills is given a full treatment with primary documents from 17th-century c.e. Oaxaca.


     At the end of this publication, there is a unique set of appendices. The table of contents gives a clear picture of what readers can find in the text, but there is much more of value here than can be accessed by a list of topics. The reader will be able to employ the appendices in many practical ways. If world history scholar–educators want to see specific examples of such meaningful aspects of the discipline as contingency and periodization, they just have to look at pages thirty-six and twenty respectively. If they are interested in models for using abstract global maps and student notebooks as instructional tools, they just have to turn to pages fifteen and eleven respectively. The set of appendices should be especially efficacious as a guide for lesson planning. Consider the teachers who want to design a lesson that deals with people without a history, compare/contrast thinking, and active learning; all they have to do is consult pages forty-three, fifty-two, and sixteen, respectively, for practical models.


Antequera- town in Andalucia after which Oaxaca was originally named by the Spanish in the 16th century c.e.

atole- maize based beverage used by Pre-Columbian Oaxacan farmers

cacique- an indigenous chief

caracol- a Pre-Columbian purple dye extracted from sea snails

Centeotl- the Aztec god of maize

charbagh- an enclosed garden of four equal sides originally from Achaemenid Empire – c. 500 b.c.e.Persia

cloister- an enclosed green space in Catholic monasteries patterned after the Persian charbagh

cochineal- a Pre- Oaxacan red dye extracted from bugs that live on nopales cactus

crenellation- a rampart around the top of castle walls with regular spaces for firing weapons at attackers

fandango- a lively couples dance from Spain


Guelaguetza- an important annual folk dance festival in Oaxaca State

mandarins- Chinese bureaucrats who passed the difficult qualifying exams based on the Chinese classics

millennial-Christian belief that the world will end in the near future

Mixtecs- a large indigenous ethnic group that lives north of Oaxaca City

nopales- Nahuatl- Aztec name for the prickly pear cactus

Oaxacaquenos- inhabitants of Oaxaca City and State

portales- a covered walkway around the perimeter of the zocalo for merchant business

quechquemitl-a Pre-Columbian upper body garment for women with a bare midriff

rebozo- a long flat garment used by Mexican women for head and shoulder covering

retablo- an altar screen behind the altar in Spanish colonial churches

serape- a long blanket-like shawl worn by Mexican men

shahdkash- Hindi name for cochineal in early modern India

tequitqui- combination of Spanish and indigenous aesthetic traditions

Tlaxcalans- large indigenous group from central Mexico, who allied themselves with Cortez against the Aztecs

two Aztec calendars- a 260 day religious, cultural calendar and a 360 day agricultural calendar – intersection of both calendars occurred every 52 years

yang hung- early modern name for cochineal in southern China- means foreign red

Zapotec- dominant indigenous group in Oaxaca City and to the south in Oaxaca State

zocalo- central plaza around which the Spanish built their colonial city Anteguera



Appendix 1 - William McNeill's Metanarrative of Cross-Regional Contact as a Major Change Agent in World History:

Metanarrative in General – 8, 92

Political Cross-Regionals – 10, 21, 41, 43, 49, 55, 59, 63

Economic Cross-Regionals – 12, 24, 29, 32, 43, 59, 78, 93

Cultural Cross-Regionals – 15, 32, 36, 37, 38, 39, 43, 49, 54, 55, 59, 66, 72, 73, 78, 81, 84

Biological Cross-Regionals – 17, 24, 25, 37, 43, 45, 93

Integration of Cross-Regionals – 19, 43, 78


Appendix 2 - Core World History Understandings:

Periodization - 20

Macro-Change – 9, 23, 24

Polycentrism – 8, 13, 14, 24, 29, 30, 38, 45

Human Geography - 26

Metageography - 29

Importance of Oceans in World History – 11, 13, 29, 31

Borderlands in World History - 33

Contingency – 17, 18, 36

Human Agency – 37, 38

Relationship Between Local and Cross-Regional Processes – 22, 40

People Without a History - 43

Revisionist History – 45



Appendix 3 - World History Themes


Absolute Monarchy – 31, 34, 37

Imperialism – 10,22,41, 48, 52, 55, 65

Self-Determination – 11, 22

Tributary State- 11


Agricultural Revolution - 22

Long-Distance Trade – 11, 12, 19, 24, 29, 93, 98, 100, 101

Mercantilism – 11, 13, 20, 29

Piracy - 14

Technological Diffusion – 9

Urbanization- 22, 24, 28, 48, 52


Cultural Diffusion – 8, 15, 31, 37, 38, 40, 48, 52, 55, 65, 72, 75, 81, 85

Cultural Synthesis – 32, 38, 78, 83, 85

Secularism – 23, 39



Disease Diffusion – 17, 46

Fauna Diffusion – 46, 93, 94, 98, 99, 101

Flora Diffusion – 18, 25, 37, 45, 47, 93, 94, 98, 99, 101

Forced Migration – 14, 37

Genetic Diffusion - 17

Genetic Synthesis- 18

World History:

Determinism - 36

Unintended Consequences- 13



Appendix 4 - Sophisticated World History Thinking Skills:

Definition of Sophisticated World History Thinking Skills - 47

Constructed Learning Theory – 48, 61, 85, 86, 90, 93, 98, 101

Compare/Contrast - 52

Relationship Of Events Over Time And Place - 55

Multiple Causation - 57

Multiple Perspectives - 61

Continuity/Change – 54, 65

Historical Sense - 71

Influence of World History on the Present - 74

Metacognition - 78


Appendix 5 - Teaching Materials:

Architecture – 16, 34, 40, 48, 55, 65, 71, 78, 82

Borderlands - 33

Ceramics – 31, 57

Clothing – 8, 13, 52, 78

Cochineal - 12

Coins - 15

Dance - 36

Diagrams - 86

Fauna - 45

Flora – 17, 24, 45

Games - 38

Garden Design - 75

Iconography – 44, 83, 88

Painting - 13

Primary Documents - 98

Sculpture – 16, 70, 78

Textiles – 8, 14

World History Vocabulary – 28, 95



Appendix 6 - Teaching Methods

Active Learning – 16, 18, 19, 21, 34, 37, 44, 48, 53, 59, 66, 86, 100

Chunking Primary Text Reading - 99

Classroom Floor as World Map - 62

Content Selection for Lesson - 80

Cooperative Learning – 16, 18, 19, 21, 27, 44, 48, 56, 59, 62, 66, 100

Essay Rubric – 27, 93, 101

Extra Credit – 77, 95

Homework – 27, 52, 54, 77, 85, 100


Identifying Data as Evidence - 98

Kinesthetic Learning Style – 12, 19, 41, 60

Large-Group Discussion – 16, 19, 21, 25, 28, 37, 44, 48, 56, 60, 70, 86

Lesson Planning - 84

Long-Range Assignments - 18

Maps – 12, 25, 26, 29, 30, 33, 46, 62

Notebooks – 11, 27, 58, 60, 86

Pairs/Threes – 19, 37, 54, 62

Peer Essay Revision - 101

Rationale for Content Selection - 83

Reading Primary Text - 98

Research Questions - 92

Role Play - 74

Scaffolded Reading - Context Clues – 98-100

Scaffolded Reading - World History Vocabulary – 98-100

Student Reflection - 90

Student Research – 44, 100

Student Essay Revision - 101

Teacher Expertise – 11, 14, 16, 19, 24, 29, 38, 44, 52, 61

Thinking Skill Wall Poster - 79

Timelines – 10, 12, 23, 24, 59, 84

Visual Learning Style –49, 58, 66, 73, 76, 81, 85, 86, 88

Visual Organizers – 20, 36, 43, 5354, 61 65, 75, 87, 89, 96, 97



Appendix 7 - NCSS C3 / Common Core World History Focus

C3 Application to Oaxaca - 92

Classroom Teaching Models - 102

Creation of Essay Rubric - 93

Data as Evidence - 98

Design of Research Question - 92

Document Credibility - 97

Document Credibility Visual Organizer – 95, 97

Educational Principles in C3 Models - 102

Essay Rubric – 93, 101

Listening and Evaluating Credibility of Claim - 95

NCSS C3 / Common Core - 91

Oral Arguments and Supportive Evidence - 103

Principles of Lesson Planning - 102

Reading for Evidence - 100

Reading Scaffolds - 98

Research Question Rationale - 92

Use of Documentary Evidence - 100

Written Arguments and Evidence - 102

Writing Historical Arguments – 101, 102


Appendix 8- Models for People Without a History-Page 44

Spanish Literate History of Teotitlan del Valle

Spanish authorities established the village of Teotitlan del Valle in c. 1572 c.e., which was about six years after Cortez's conquest of the Aztecs in central Mexico. Since the Spanish king granted the Dominican Order a monopoly over missionary activity in the Oaxacan region, the friars introduced Western European religion, fauna and technology to the indigenous population. They built the Catholic Church of the Sacred Blood of Christ in the 16th century c.e. right on top of a deserted indigenous sacred site.

Zapotec Indigenous History of Teotitlan del Valle

     Our village of Teotitlan del Valle is at least 2,500 years old. There are Olmec and Zapotec artifacts found in this area that date back to the early 5th century b.c.e. Our weavers created beautiful cotton textiles on the backstrap loom at least 200 years before the Spanish conquest. Teotiltan is the Aztec name for our village but its traditional Zapotec name is Xaquila which means celestial constellation. The reference to the stars relates to an important temple our ancestors built for the Sun God, where observations of the night sky were obviously made for calendar purposes.



1 For a seminal example of this process, see Donald R. Wright, The World and a Very Small Place in Africa (London: M.E. Sharpe, 1997), 67.

2 A statement of this seminal world history notion can be found at William H. McNeill, The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1963), 578.

3 See Amy Butler Greenfield, A Perfect Red (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2005), 82.

4 For the primacy of biological exchanges after Columbus, see Alfred W. Crosby, Jr. The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1972), xiv.

5 For the biological contribution to the New Imperialism of the 19th century c.e., see Alfred W. Crosby, Jr. Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 7.

6 The perspective that the study of any history is a sophisticated thinking process can be found at Robert B. Bain, " Into the Breach: Using Research and Theory to Shape History Instruction," Knowing Teaching and Learning History: National and International Perspectives, ed. Peter N.Stearns, Peter Seixas and Sam Wineburg (New York: New York University Press, 2000), 332.

7 An excellent example of polycentrism in world history can be found at Philip D. Curtin, Cross-Cultural Trade in World History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 1.

8 For an example of polycentric migration in Post-Classic World History, see Jerry H. Bentley, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 14.

9 A challenge to any example of centrism can be found at Martin W. Lewis and Karen E.Wigen, The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 125.

10 An excellent example of this important world history understanding can be found at Donald R. Wright, The World and a Very Small Place in Africa (London: M.E. Sharpe, 1997), 77.

11 For a clear statement of this perspective, see Eric R. Wolf, Europe and the People Without History ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), 385.

12 For the significant contribution of American food crops, see Alfred W. Crosby, The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1972), 170.

13 For a detailed description of externalizing history thinking in the classroom, see Robert B.Bain, "Into the Breach: Using Research and Theory to Shape History Instruction," Knowing, Teaching and Learning History: National and International Perspectives, ed. Peter Stearns, Peter Seixas, and Sam Wineburg ( New York: New York University Press, 2000), 335.

14 For the entire text, see Thomas Gage: Travels in the New World, ed. J. Eric Thompson ( Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1958), 111-112.



Bain, Robert B. "Into the Breach: Using Research and Theory to Shape History Instruction." In Knowing Teaching And Learning History: National and International Perspectives, edited by Peter N. Stearns, Peter Seixas and Sam Wineburg. New York: New York University Press, 2000.
     Strong case for making history thinking in the classroom explicit.

Bentley, Jerry H. Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
     Cross-regional contacts in Ancient World History.

Crosby, Alfred W., Jr. Ecological Imperialism: Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
     Flora and fauna as vehicles for Western European imperialism.

________________. The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1972.
     Biological exchange as a two way street.

Curtin, Philip D. Cross-Cultural Trade in World History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
Long distance trade as a major facilitator of cross-regional contacts.

Greenfield, Amy Butler. A Perfect Red. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2005.
     Cochineal in global context.

McNeill, William H. The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1963.
     Set the metanarrative of cross-regional contacts as a major change agent in world history.

Thompson, J. Eric. , ed., Thomas Gage: Travels in the New World. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1958.
     17th century first-hand observations of Oaxaca region in Nueva Espana.

Wolf, Eric R. Europe and the People Without History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.
     Integration of people without alphabets into the human narrative.

Wright, Donald R. The World and a Very Small Place in Africa. London: M.E. Sharpe, 1997.
     Local history in global context.

All of the photos and diagrams in this book were taken by or drawn by the author and they are his personal property

Thomas Mounkhall has taught world history for the past fifty years at the secondary, undergraduate and graduate levels. He welcomes all responses to his work at


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