Big History in the classroom | January 2015

Bill Gates Is Revolutionizing How History Is Taught, And We Went To A Poor NYC High School To See It In Action

Published: 8th January 2015
Source: Business Insider

High school student Julien, of Brooklyn, raises a hand in Big History class at Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies.

Bryan, a teenager from Brooklyn, says his history class has changed his understanding of the universe.

"It's not like normal history. It's not like, 'This guy did this back in this time,'" he says. "But now I can say, I care about the Big Bang - if it was real - or I care about the stars. Because we came from the dust of stars. It makes you feel kind of cool. You feel connected to the universe."

Bryan's school, the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, is one of 1,200 high schools around the world that offer Big History, a radical new way of teaching world history that is raising eyebrows in education circles. Beyond its divisive method of instruction, the class has become a hot-rod thanks to its lead investor: Bill Gates.

Created by historian David Christian, Big History replaces the linear telling of history with a holistic approach, combining disciplines including biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, psychology, and philosophy, to give students a fuller understanding of the human narrative and their place in it. The curriculum hinges on collective learning, the idea that we learn not as an individual, but by building on a wealth of knowledge passed on as a group.

Christian, 67, developed the class as a young professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. The cross-disciplinary nature of Big History captivated his students, who were tired of memorization-based history, and every year, the class was oversubscribed. Soon teachers from around the world were calling to ask about implementing something similar.

Read the full article at the Business Insider website.