Marc Jason Gilbert
News that a major revision was planned in the College Board's Advance Placement World History course sparked a debate about the place of the course in the field of world history as well as the nature of the planned revisions. Because of the perceived need of instructors to rapidly re-tool their curricula to suit the proposed changes, the Forum of this issue of World History Connected addresses these subjects and, comfortingly enough, finds that the course design upholds traditional standards of thinking and writing about history. Guest edited by William Zeigler, the Forum explores a variety of approaches to the revisions, including its slightly revised periodization, but is chiefly focused on the course's emphasis on how historians analyze and write history. Some readers will note that absent from the Forum are essays addressing the assessment instruments for the revised course: the College Board has yet to finalize its evaluative instruments and asked this journal to postpone a discussion of that subject until it releases further authoritative information regarding sample questions and test format this fall.
Educators today are challenged by content overload that is compounded by student apathy and an apparent lack of a sense of engagement. Leading off the Featured Articles section, Craig Lockard offers a survey of protest music that will certainly get many students to get up interest in the relationship between music and politics in his study of songs of protest in the developing world. Craig Benjamin's examination of the classical roots of World History may not get students up out of their seats, but it is so accessible that it is certain to be as popular among instructors as "300" is to students (though much more accurate!) when used to illustrate world history methodology. It is likely to become required reading in graduate courses in the field.
Other contributions to the Featured Articles section offer suggestions for overcoming obstacles to effective teaching and learning. Tom Mounkhall has prepared a second installment in a series of readings and resources prepared for the use of the "busy teacher," while in his own series on innovative teaching methods, James Diskant provides an example of how teachers of world history can be facilitators rather than directors through a discussion of what often are called extra-curricular activities, but which lay at the very heart of the world history curriculum. John Maunu closes the section with a resource article that addresses an issue—migration-- that does not have to be indentified as an important theme by the College Board to be of interest to world history educators.
Each issue, World History Connected attempts to add a new feature or expand an existing one. This issue, two such innovations are attempted. The first is an expanded treatment of the ancient and classical worlds in both the Featured Articles and Book Review sections. The second is the inclusion in the book review section of works which delve more deeply into the scholarship of world history, without diminishing its value for the classroom. Books under review range from studies of the issue of blood libel in Western tradition and Germany's discovery of the world to Saladin, and from revisionist views of Chinese warlords (they are now alleged by some scholars to be less evil and more reflective of Chinese history than communist era histories have painted them) to an examination of the myths surrounding the life of Captain James Cook. Of special note is Saundra Schwartz's review of Theresa Urbainczyk's Slave Revolts in Antiquity which provides insight into the meaning of such revolts that is especially timely given this year's new version of the story of the Thracian slave Spartacus on the Starz pay-per-view channel.
Upcoming issues will address Latin America in World History and the Environment in World History. The editors of World History Connected would appreciate hearing from readers as to the fresh subjects they would like to see addressed in future issues and also any they would like to see revisited.
World History Connected has recently learned that it is reaching many readers in China. To them we offer a heartfelt welcome.
Marc Jason Gilbert can be contacted at email@example.com.
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