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Teaching Unit D1
The Economic Role of Women in World History
The AP World History Course
Main Points of the Unit
AP World History Course Description (Acorn Book) Connections
Lesson One – Introduction to Gender in World History
Lesson Two – Comparing the Economic Role of Women
Lesson Three – Gender and Empire
Lesson Four – Women and Industrialization.
Lesson Five – Inner/Outer Circle Seminar Discussion
Lesson Six – Change-Over-Time Essay
This unit explores the gradual changes in women’s status and economic roles in six geographical regions over the past millennium. The lessons in this unit are intended for periodic use throughout a semester or year-long high school level AP World History course. Using primary and secondary documents, analysis charts, mental maps and graphic organizers to research continuity and change in women’s lives, students critically evaluate the global political, economic and social factors – such as family structure, belief systems, educational opportunities, industrialization and colonialism – that have shaped gender dynamics across time and space.
A central objective of the unit is to encourage students to broaden their world historical perspective by re-examining AP World History course material over a long time frame, and from the perspective of groups of women whose lives and experiences are sometimes marginalized in World History textbooks. Students also sharpen their critical thinking skills as they analyze the documents included with the unit and gain practice in making meaningful comparisons across regional societies and the unit’s three main timeframes: 1000-1450, 1450-1750 and 1750-1914.
The initial lesson introduces the concept of “gender roles” as a tool for study of world history. Subsequent lessons apply the concept of gender roles to analysis of women’s economic contributions in the period 1000-1450; analyses of gender and empire in the period 1450-1750?; and exploration of women and industrialization in the period 1750-1914. The Introduction is followed by three successive lessons (2, 3 and 4) that provide an activity intended to help students process the information they have compiled while doing research on women and women’s issues in different areas of the world.
Student activities include both individual and group work. In Lesson 2, students use an analysis chart to survey the influence of religion and belief systems on women’s economic and social status; in Lesson 3, the focus shifts to mental mapping and the effects of imperialism on women’s lives; in Lesson 4 a graphic organizer helps students to record the impressions of the relationship between industrialization and women’s work. Two assessment alternatives– an inner/outer circle seminar discussion (Lesson 5) and a change-over-time essay (Lesson 6) – round out the unit. Each of the assessment activities stresses the requirements for tracing the process of change and continuity in women’s work over the period 1000-1914.
The AP World History Course
What Is World History?
World history, in one way or another, is the story of connections within the human community. It ranges in scope from tales of individual families to narratives of all humanity. At every level, the work of the world historian is to seek out the crossings of boundaries and the linkages of systems in the human past -- connections across regions of the world, among themes in history, and across periods of time. World history, rather than the sum total of all of history, provides a focus on the connections among localities and themes in history.
World history involves thinking about patterns over time. The great debates in world history focus on the connections in trade among regions (as between Europe and East Asia), the connections between free and slave labor in the Atlantic world, the occasional outbursts of epidemic disease over huge regions, and the interchanges that led to the rise of national states throughout the world. The patterns of world history include continuities as well as changes. Though human life spans are now longer on average than in earlier times, the love of a mother for her child is not much different than before, and neither is the competition among siblings. The messages of major religions have remained remarkably stable.
Much of world history is depicted in terms of continents and other major regions -- South Asia and Africa or the Indian Ocean and Europe. Yet there is more to world history than the history of region after region: The exchange of silver and gold has linked distant sites, and the histories of Christianity and Islam touch on every continent. The story of industrialization centers on the development of factory systems in a few nations, but the story cannot be completed without the intercontinental movements of raw materials, finished goods, and workers. World history includes the history of the United States and of the European regions that are studied as part of Western Civilization, but world history addresses these regions and all other regions as part of a long-term and increasingly interconnected set of human societies.
World history is a challenging and exhilarating field of study. It is conceptually and methodologically complex. As students develop proficiency in defining and solving historical problems, they develop important organizational skills that they will practice in understanding difficult issues they will face in many aspects of life outside the classroom. One benefit of studying world history is clearer thinking about past and present.
World History Graphic Organizer
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