A Lesson Plan on Technology as a Cause of History

Elsewhere on this blog I have posted lessons from the opening unit of the adapted freshmen global studies I used while teaching in New York. The idea for this, as I have also mentioned elsewhere, came from an Introduction to Liberal Studies class at Amherst College called, unsurprisingly, “Causes of History.” That was an interdisciplinary course that various students in my Russian classes (I was a Hampshire student taking Russian at Amherst) called “causes of misery.”

In any case, the phrase stuck in my mind, and I decided to appropriate it for a unit on basic concepts in historical inquiry for the struggling students I served. So this lesson plan on technology as a cause of history is one of a series of ten in that unit. The challenge I find is that students possess a very narrow view of technology; unless something is electronic, they don’t consider it technology. So this context clues worksheet on the noun technology aims to broaden their definition and understanding of this concept. When the first early human discovered how to use sharp stones as a knife or a hammer to open bones and get at the high protein marrow within, that piece of stone was a technological advance. Technology, this lesson means to convey, is anything that makes work and life easier and causes advances in human development.

For that reason, this worksheet for this lesson is really a note-taking blank. This is really a brainstorming lesson designed to get kids to revise their understanding of technology so that they can see, for example, that something as basic as the wheel was a significant technological advance–and that it moved history along as surely as it moved goods and people along trade routes.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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