Big History School
Macquarie Big History School
Macquarie University Big History Institute is pleased to announce that work is well underway on producing an entirely new Big History resource for schools, due for release initially in Australia in July 2018, with other countries to closely follow.
Macquarie University is a pioneer of Big History, teaching Big History at the university level since 1989. Macquarie is also a founding partner in Big History Project (BHP), the first online Big History resource developed for high schools, co-founded by Bill Gates and David Christian, which launched with David Christian’s TED talk in March 2011. Macquarie licensed intellectual property in its Big History courses to enable development of the ground-breaking BHP resource, and we have been very active in driving uptake of BHP in many countries around the world.
Whilst we remain very proud of the first generation BHP resource, we are tremendously excited by the opportunity to take all the lessons we have learned over the past seven years and turn to the task of reimagining and recreating a next generation Big History School experience. It is time for ‘another book on the Big History shelf’ to provide greater choice and options for teachers. Our approach with Big History School will differ from BHP in important respects.
The BHP course was initially designed for students aged 15-16. We are keen to build on that experience to design Big History courses for a much wider range of ages. So Big History School will be a comprehensive K-12 resource, comprised of three offerings – Big History School Junior, Big History School Core, and Big History School Senior.
Big History School Junior is targeted at ages 8-9 (Australian school years 3 & 4) and will introduce key concepts, and be taught over 20-40 hours. We thank our experimental primary schools in Sydney, Putney Public and West Auburn Public, who have helped demonstrate over the last few years the incredible impact that Big History has on young students.
Big History School Core is targeted at ages 12-14 (Australian school years 7-9) and will be offered in both 200 hour and 100 hour course versions, providing a solid interdisciplinary foundation and preparation for students for their entire high school years. Big History School Core will provide an updated and renewed curriculum reflecting the latest academic scholarship since BHP was first launched.
Big History School Senior is targeted at ages 15-17 (Australian school years 10-12) and will be a 30-60 hour course providing a powerful preparation for university. It will draw on Macquarie’s acclaimed Coursera MOOC Big History Connecting Knowledge and provide a thought provoking experience for senior students.
BHP is optimised for US schools, and since 2011 this optimisation has increased with a strong focus on social studies and world history, the inclusion of content pieces with US centric references and framing, and an emphasis on the teaching of reading and writing including the alignment of BHP’s writing rubric with the US Common Core.
By contrast, the most important guiding principle of Big History School is a commitment to Big History as a cross-curriculum interdisciplinary course. The major emphasis will be on the skills of interdisciplinarity, critical thinking, and appreciation of scale and perspective. We are working hard to develop content pieces that resonate globally. At the same time we are identifying specific opportunities where individual societal focus pieces from multiple international contexts can be appropriately included.
Big History School will also provide versions optimised and, where possible, mapped to individual curriculum environments. So teachers in Australia will have options to take their students through a course specifically mapped to their environment, whilst teachers in India will have the same options for their particular curriculum alignment. This versioning will also enable us to accommodate translations in particular countries and regions.
Share our Vision
As an Australian university with a significant international perspective, we are committed to providing versions of Big History that work well around the world. If you want to bring Big History to your country, reach out to us, and we can keep you posted on our plans. Let’s explore how we can collaborate.
We already have a number of schools in Australia who will be piloting our Big History School Junior, Core, and Senior offerings next year. If you are a teacher or educator who wants to be involved in testing or piloting our new platform – we welcome your involvement.
2018 is shaping up as another milestone year for Big History. BHP changed the landscape when it launched in 2011, and the success of BHP has opened the door for a similar commitment in many other countries. Join us as we make Macquarie University Big History School a truly global success.