A revolution in studying history | Aga Khan Academies

A revolution in studying history

02 July 2018

In the academic year 2017-2018, students of grade 8 participated in the Big History Project, a social science course that uses interdisciplinary techniques gain a fresh perspective on history. Big History was created by Dr. David Christian, professor at Macquarie University, Sydney.

This revolutionary method in teaching and learning world history looks at the subject as interconnected events that were a part of global shifts rather than discrete episodes in time. “The scale designed for BHP makes us view the universe completely differently since it’s not human-centered, as history has not always been about humans and their lives,” says Soha Jiwani of grade 8H.

Bob Bain, who adapted the course for senior schools, wrote to Academy grade 8 students, congratulating them on their work after history teacher Koel Ray sent him a video of our students’ perspective on the course. “In many ways,” he wrote, “you, your teachers, and your school are pioneers. You are part of a group of educational pioneers blazing new ways to teach and learn. As a fellow educational pioneer, I wanted to take a minute to say how proud David, the BHP team, and I are of you and your efforts to ask big questions and to travel across almost 14 billion years of time and a universe of space to answer those questions.” Bain, who is an associate professor at the University of Michigan, shared the video with over 40 teachers from around the world. Watch the video featuring Academy grade 8 students, here.

"BHP is also excellent professional development for teachers," explains Academy BHP Coordinator, Himani Sood. "Many of the concepts overlap with those of the MYP. A lot of the lesson plans focus on driving the concepts home to the children and this has subsequently shaped the way I plan my lessons in my non-BHP classes as well. So much of the focus is on doing and learning and the students end up having just as much fun as I do! Sometimes, I find myself being a learner, as I sit and listen to a student who is exceptionally adept at mathematics lead the class by helping us better understand the concept of parallax."

The BHP is funded and endorsed by Bill Gates. Andrew Sorkin, writing for the New York Times wrote, “Really, Big History just seems like a class that [Gates] wished he could have taken in high school.”

By Ajay Sundaram