Big Spiral History begins!

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Big Spiral History starts today! New to Big Spiral History (BSH)? Oh, let us explain it to you!

BSH is the framework we're using for our social studies curriculum. It's also the beating heart of our schools.

As the great Susan Wise Bauer says, "History is not a subject; history is the subject." History is the viewpoint that knits together all the other ideas and stories learned in school. It gives color and substance to everything.

If describing history class as all those things sounds weird to you, keep reading'.

The trouble (or a least trouble) with the traditional social studies curriculum is that it's not big enough.

Big Spiral History comes from my master's project, which proposed a brand-spanking-new scope and sequence to the K–12 social studies curriculum. Basically:

  • We study the whole diversity of human culture — not just America and Western Europe.
  • We study the whole of universal history — not just the modern age.

And instead of forgetting what we learn soon after we learn it (!), we loop back through all of history every four years — repeating some of the major stories from a new vantage point, and exploring details in more depth!

Through Big Spiral History, we hope to help kids achieve an understanding of life, the Universe, and everything — a perspective not even attempted in the traditional social studies framework.

This year, we'll be tackling the ancient world — from the beginning of the Universe to the time of Alexander the Great.

And to start off, we're spending a few weeks on the idea of "beginnings". This means we'll be plunging headlong into one of the hottest controversies in America — evolution vs. creation — and t'morrow I'd like to lay out why we're doing something so foolish — and how we're doing so.

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you'd like to see our past writings on Big Spiral History, take a look at our earlier posts on the fatal flaw in traditional social studies, one thing a new social studies should aspire to, the glories of spiraling, our basic framework (warning: it's weird!), and how to teach the past to grade schoolers.

Brandon Hendrickson

Seattle, WA