Students taught Big History in Michigan high schools | September 2014

Why did Bill Gates give $10million to history teacher David Christian?

Published: 29th September 2014 
Michigan Radio

Bob Bain is an Associate Professor at the School of Education and also at the Department of History, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at Michigan University. Bob is an Associate Member of the Big History Institute. 

If you had a typical American high school experience, chances are you trudged through the day, going from one period to another - maybe starting with algebra, then over to American lit, then chemistry or biology, on to history, and so on. History in particular gets a bum rap, with grumbling about memorizing dates and names.

What's missing? A sense of all of this knowledge being connected. Enter the Big History Project. Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has become a champion of this new way to teach history, and he's using his own money to develop this new history curriculum for high schools.

Bob Bain is a professor of history and education at the University of Michigan. He is also one of the advisers to Bill Gates and The Big History Project. As a former high school teacher of 26 years, Bain says most kids experience school as one isolated curriculum after another. "The federal government claims that 40% of American high school students are chronically disengaged," says Bain.

In addition to disengaged kids, Bain believes most learning that's happening was didactic - students listen to and memorize other people's answers without thinking on their own.Can the Big History Project's approach address these problems in history classes? Bain thinks so.

Listen to the full interview and read the blog post post here