Big History Project at CHS Explores the Universe and Our World's History Across All Subject Areas

Posted by: Jennifer Landry 3 years, 3 months ago

Big History Project at CHS Explores the Universe and Our World's History Across All Subject Areas

Kellie Moore one of a few educators across the US piloting innovative project

Today we have more information available to us on our phones than was available in all the great libraries of Alexandria. How do we decide what claims we can trust? Big History, a class at Coronado High School taught by Kellie Moore, teaches students to examine their intuition, looking at the authority, evidence, and logic of claims across disciplines and scales. Students learn to apply a thoughtful, consistent, and rigorous approach to engaging with new ideas and information and using evidence to construct effective arguments. Everything has a history: each person, plant, animal and object, our planet, and the entire universe. 

The Big History Project is dedicated to fostering a greater love and capacity for learning among high school students. Bill Gates and David Christian started this project with a goal to get big history taught to as many students around the world as possible.

Christian was influenced by the Annales School, a group of early-20th-century French historians who insisted that history be explored on multiple scales of time and space. Christian had subsequently divided the history of the world into eight separate "thresholds," beginning with the Big Bang, 13 billion years ago (Threshold 1), moving through to the origin of Homo sapiens (Threshold 6), the appearance of agriculture (Threshold 7) and, finally, the forces that gave birth to our modern world (Threshold 8). Click here for Christian's TED Talk video on "The History of Our World in 18 Minutes."

CHS was one of the original pilot schools for the Big History Project. The high-school course links insights across subjects into ambitious narratives. The units begin with the Big Bang and shift to lesson plans on the solar system, trade and communications, globalization and, finally, the future. A class on the emergence of life might start with photosynthesis before moving on to eukaryotes and multicellular organisms and the genius of Charles Darwin and James Watson. A lecture on the slave trade might include the history of coffee beans in Ethiopia.

Click here for a recent article on Bill Gates and Big History from the NYT Magazine Education Issue.  A version of this article appeared in print on September 7, 2014, on page MM30 of the New York Times Sunday Magazine with the headline: "Everything Is Illuminated."