World History Syllabus

Jonathan Milner
(336) 770-3245 (UNCSA High School Office)
Office Hours: M, T, Th, F: 10:15-11:15; Wednesday, by appointment
Office 211 Gray Building
Classroom 307 Gray Building

Welcome to World Cultural History! This year we will be learning about everything that ever happened. We’d better hurry. My role will be of a facilitator who will ask you hard questions, prompt your own questions, and point you towards answers. It’s going to be great fun collaborating as we learn more about how we got here.

This year we will not just study history, we’ll turn it inside out like a purse we’ve lost a ten billion dollar bill in. (They don’t exist. And why not? Who would be on it?) We’ll start with your own history, who you are, where you came from (mom, dad, dance lessons, granny, that scar from the washing machine), what lenses you bring to class (libertarian, Zen-Baptist, drummer), why you are you instead of someone else. History is freaking great, but I don’t really care if you know what year the Treaty of Ghent was signed (it wasn’t at the start of the Shang Dynasty in the year 1750 BC – and did they really call it BC in BC? How did they know C was coming in precisely 1750 years?). I do care that you think hard about why the Treaty of Ghent was important, you figure out why it happened, you wonder what life would be like if it hadn’t happened, you ask me questions about what impact it had on history, you wonder what kind of utensils the guys who singed it ate with for dinner that night, you question why it was men that signed it and not women, you wonder why we are studying the Treaty of Freaking Ghent instead of the religious practices of poor indigenous famers in the highlands of Guatemala during the early 19th century. Oh, that would be interesting to study! Guatemalan highland religion is a mixture of traditional Mayan religions and a Spanish-Jesuit strain of Catholicism. I once spent an afternoon in an adobe thatch roofed church in the Meso-American highlands. Incense swirled across the rough hewn wooden beams, a four and a half foot tall Mayan women rolled a Coke bottle across the dirt floor, a black and white stripped chicken ran down the aisles pursued by a small naked child. I was told that if I took a person’s picture, the locals would think that my camera would still their soul. I read about a French tourist who was hacked to death by local machete-wielding Mayans; her camera still gripped tightly in her bloodied severed hand. I was also told that for a dollar fifty I could take all the pictures/souls I wanted. I didn’t take any pictures. That’s a true story. But what about me, influenced that story. What would an Afghan girl say about the same event? What about a Mayan elder? The President of Guatemala? A missionary? Jay-Z?

Critical Questions and Skills
This class is more about questions, than answers. More about skills, than facts. More about thinking, than memorizing. I’m 45 and I’m still waiting for the written test where I have to regurgitate the facts I’ve memorized from the book I just read. It’s not going to happen. Most success comes from the ability to conceive original ideas, communicate them clearly and persuasively, work hard & meet deadlines.

Free Inquiry
This classroom is a place for critical inquiry into vital questions about our political beliefs and values. I hope that this class stimulates your thinking, respects and affirms your beliefs, and is a safe place for you to share your ideas. It’s my goal to listen thoughtfully, ask incisive questions, and consider all sides of an issue. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I hope you will always feel free to share your ideas in this class and that you will keep an open mind as you listen to your colleagues.

o Pens
o Pencils
o Colored pencils
o Erasers
o Paper
o 3 ring binder
o Highlighters
o Markers (magic markers/flip chart markers)
o Sharpies
o viking helmet (optional)
o Glue sticks
o Scissors

We follow all UNCSA attendance policies in this class. If you have an anticipated absence, you are responsible for rescheduling make-up work before you leave. If you have an unanticipated excused absence, you are responsible for rescheduling any make up work within 2 days of your return. If you fail to reschedule missed work within 2 days of your return, you will receive a zero for your missed work. If you miss any work because of an unexcused absence, you will receive a zero for your missed work. All of our class assignments are listed on our class website, and in case of extended absences (yours or mine), you will be expected to follow our progress on-line.

Assignment Types
Projects 50% of grade
Projects will be assigned well in advance of their due date, you will be allowed to select the students you wish to work with, or you may choose to work alone. Teams will be responsible for dividing responsibilities, monitoring team progress, and turning in the final product by the deadline. All team members will receive the same grade for the final product.

Assignments 50% of grade
You will complete a number of individual assignments throughout the year. These assignments will include, but not be limited to, reading assignments, preparation for discussion, journal reviews, essays, homework assignments, reading quizzes, presentations, and debates. All work is to be completed individually unless stated otherwise. All student work must comply with the UNCSA plagiarism policy and must be completed on time with a ten-point penalty for each day the work is late. Every few weeks you will write a journal review connecting class topics to current events. I’ll also give you some small tasks to complete individually for class.

Comportment (Bubble)
As in any dance company, orchestra, acting ensemble, or visual arts group you will be evaluated not merely based on your intelligence, chops, and “talent”, but also on your ability to get along well with others, adapt to group norms, and generally “behave”. In this class, that means that you should ask questions in class, stay awake and alert, actively listen, be prepared every day (I will sometimes check to see if you’ve done your homework reading or writing, invest yourself in the well being of the others who share your work space, and generally aspire to make the class a better place. This is a small part of your grade, but if your grade is on the bubble, rounding up or not, based on your comportment can be the difference between in a letter grade. Put away your phone, close your laptop, and stay awake.

Progress Reports
You will receive a progress report at the midway point of each semester. I will answer any questions and explain your midterm report in an individual conference to be held prior to the midterm. I will update your grades throughout the term on our Blackboard site

Student Responsibility for Coursework:
In submitting assignments and projects for courses, students take responsibility for their work as a whole, and imply that, except as properly noted, the ideas, words, material and craftsmanship are their own.
UNCSA High School Student Code of Conduct

Grading Scale
Numerical grade Letter Grade
100-93 A
92-90 A-
89-87 B+
86-83 B
82-80 B-
79-77 C+
76-73 C
72-70 C-
69-67 D+
66-63 D
62-60 D-
59-0 F

Hammurabi’s Code of Conduct
Observe the Golden Rule. In other words…

Come to class every day. If there is a reason you must be absent, please inform me prior to the absence, if possible. I shut the door when class starts. If you arrive after the door is shut, you are tardy. Please shut the door behind you. Three tardies equal one absence. Please reference the UNCSA attendance policy for further clarification of the attendance policy. Any work missed due to an unexcused absence will result in a grade of zero for that assignment.

Honor Code
I take intellectual property very seriously. Any instances of plagiarism, cheating, or unauthorized collaboration or copying of assignments will result in an automatic zero for the assignment with no possibility of make up. All violations of the honor code will be reported to the Assistant Dean.

You must turn in work when it is due. You will be assessed a late penalty of ten points per day late. You may not make-up work after it is five days over due. You may not make up any work that was due on the day of an unexcused absence.

Food and drink
Leave the room as neat and tidy as you found it. I allow you to eat and drink in class (within reason: no waffles please). If your class leaves food or drinks in the room this privilege will be suspended.

Cell phones
Cells phones and any personal communication devices should be turned off during class and stowed in a bag, backpack, or under your desk. Please do not answer phones, text, or allow your phones to ring or vibrate during class. Laptops are allowed but must be shut unless I say otherwise. The first time your cell phone goes off in class, I will answer it; there won’t be a second time.

You may NOT use computers in class without my permission.

Sleeping in class
You may not sleep in class without my permission. That won’t happen. Sleeping in class will affect your grade, leave you open to surprise attack, and leave silly red marks on your face.

There is a great deal of opportunity for discussion in this class.
Discussion (and life in general) works best if you observe the following rules.
Speak your mind (not just your heart).
Restate what the other person has just said before you respond to it.
Attack ideas, not people. Don’t kill the messenger.
Ask as many questions as you make statements.
It’s ok to disagree. You can still be friends.
Work towards understanding.
Do us all a favor and think about what you are going to say before you say it.
Follow this guide: Is what you are saying true? Is it important? Is it worth saying? Is it hurtful?
Don’t repeat things that have already been said. Don’t begin with, “Somebody already said this…”
Respond to the thread of the discussion, not what was said five minutes ago (let it go).
If you start a sentence with, “I’m not racist, but…” you shouldn’t say it.

More pages