Previously, I posted an article outlining some of the challenges I had been working through as I comprehensively redraft America 3.0, my course on the contemporary history of the United States. Today, I will share some thoughts on the “knowledge tree,” one of the organizational spines of the course and what the first 10 levels will look like for a student in the course.

The course asks students to acquire knowledge about recent American history in six areas: Social Change and Reaction, Culture, Politics, Economics/Finance/Labor/Industry, Foreign Policy and Technology. The first ten levels of the Social Change and Reaction tree look like this:

 

Level 1: Gather 8 pieces of data that inform you about the state of Black America in America 2.0 and DO.
Level 2: Gather 8 pieces of data that inform you about the state of women in America in America 2.0 and DO.
Level 3: Gather 8 pieces of data that inform you about the conditions facing Native Americans in America 2.0 and DO.
Level 4: Gather 8 pieces of data that inform you about the state of Mexican Americans (or another immigrant group) in America 2.0 and DO.
Level 5: Gather 8 pieces of data that inform you about the conditions facing gay Americans in America 2.0 and DO.
Level 6: Derive 3 common threads between the experiences of these groups.
Level 7: Choose 3 from previous levels (Black America, Women, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, gay Americans). What were the triggering event or events that stimulated a new consciousness for these groups in America 2.0? Why these events and DO.
Level 8: What, if anything, is common between these triggering events?
Level 9: Gather 15 pieces of data that inform you about the state of “mainstream” America in America 2.0. What does “mainstream” mean in this case? Derive what is common between your data points and DO.
Level 10 BOSS: What qualities of the mainstream were the disenfranchised entranced by or interested in attaining for themselves? How were the disenfranchised resisting the power of the mainstream? What about the mainstream were they reacting against? DO

 

Some notes and definitions:

Gather – go to a source or source you trust and learn enough about the topic to DO something meaningful with it.

Derive – using the knowledge you gathered previously, determine an understanding that is defensible and makes sense to you of how that knowledge fits together.

DO – once you have gathered, derived or what have you, choose some method of sharing/communicating what you’ve learned from the Doing tree.

BOSS – a question/task of notably greater difficulty than the one’s before, which is lead into by the tasks before and which is particularly suitable for group exploration (and group-based DOs).

In my next post, I will respond to questions/thoughts posted by readers and/or share an example of how I am structuring the “Doing” tree.

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