I have never been this excited about teaching a new course. I am designing a senior elective on Modern Asia. The focus will be China and India in the period from the end of WWII to the present. I have created courses before, but this one will be different.
I am not as concerned with learning all of the content as I used to be. I am more focused on creating an exciting, empowering experience with the class itself reflecting the contemporary history and current events we will study. I am reading for background and assembling sources, as I have always done. I am grateful to all who tweet articles on either China or India. I am saving them to my Diigo account, and looking forward to digging into them as necessary – collaboration with colleagues I’ve never met is new for me. Beyond the content, I am looking to test out some of the most exciting educational practices that I have discovered through my connections with #sschat primarily but also through other recent professional development opportunities.
My plan so far – students will create and maintain blogs. Blogging could be an option for homework on any given night. Students will to some extent drive the course with their questions. My librarian has purchased ebooks for India and China, and we can make liberal use of them as students seek the background knowledge necessary for understanding. I am hoping to establish some relationships with people in China and India so that we may be able to Skype, or at the very least, correspond electronically. I would like to try to use a backchannel in class discussion to allow students to raise questions and make comments. I want students to work collaboratively to construct their understanding. I want students to write reflectively, analytically and often. I want students to read a variety of sources. I want students to test different ways to share their ideas and work with others through technology.
I know that there are some historical events that we need to look at deeply – the independence and partition in India and the Cultural Revolution in China, for example. I know that I want to start the course by showing the video Two Million Minutes.
Beyond that, I don’t know. My goal is not to arm students with an exhaustive supply of information. It is to arm students with an inexhaustible curiosity and the tools to be able to pursue knowledge and share it with others.