California's Proposed History and Geography Curriculum Standards

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Following is the text of a preliminary draft of proposed standards for the U.S. History and Geography curriculum in grades 9 through 12 in California. Standards are also being developed for curricula in U.S. Government, Civics, and Economics and in World History, Culture, and Geography. The proposals were discussed at last month's meeting in Berkeley.

The draft proposals represent the work of a 25-member committee, appointed by the state education department, that includes teachers, administrators, and university professors specializing in history.

Following is the text of the proposed standards for the U.S. History and Geography curriculum in grades 9 through 12 in California. The proposals, which were distributed in preliminary-draft form to teachers at last month's conference on the teaching of history held at the University of California at Berkeley, also included standards for the U.S. Government, Civics, and Economics curriculum.

The draft proposals represent the work of a 25-member committee, appointed by the state education department, that includes teachers, administrators, staff from the department, and university professors specializing in history.

U.S. History and Geography These Model Curriculum Standards represent fundamental essentials in the understanding of the history and geography of the United States. They are built into a one-year course of study in this subject area. Local school districts should match their curriculum, based on local needs and desires, to these standards which have shaped and guided the development of our nation. The ideas, events, people, places, and concepts included are the stuff of real life, real history, and can be made to come alive in the classrooms of creative and concerned teachers.

This set of standards has been divided into five categories in an effort to have the "United States History and Geography" course illustrate the vital nature of chronology, provide answers to three critical questions, and present some supportive and essential materials.

A. Critical eras in American history.

B. What is the essence of our American character?

C. How has the United States governmental system evolved?

D. How has our nation grown and changed?

E. Suggested readings and essential people, ideas, places, and events.

In the consideration of these model curriculum standards, it is important to understand that, in most cases, the essence of the standards has been influential throughout American history. The list of "important elements" following each standard contains basic examples of the content that should be learned. By listing these elements in chronological order, the student will be able to see the linkage that exists through time for each standard.

History should be taught so as to provide the key to a coherent relationship between origins and contemporary reality. Geography should be taught to demonstrate our fascination with the nature of differing environments and the development of a broad range of modified landscapes in America. These two disciplines reveal the connection between the events, persons, places, and ideas of the past with the present in the development of the United States.

A. Critical Eras in American


1. American history is a chronology of individuals, events, places, ideas, and institutions where the present is understood only in terms of its connection with the past.

Important elements

The geographical setting and earliest peoples

Climate, topography, soils, and water

Bering Strait early migrations to North America


Amerindian nations

Age of exploration to 1600

Controversies over possible South Pacific, Chinese, and other pre-Columbian explorers

Colonies in the New World (circa 1492-1700)

The American Revolution and the development of the Constitution (circa 1775-1787)

A new nation begins (circa 1776-1800)

Democracy in the America of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe (circa 1800-1829)

The Jacksonian era (circa 1828-1840)

A new nationalism in America (circa 1840-1860)

The Civil War and its aftermath (circa 1860-1890)

Modern America emerges (circa 1865-1900)

America as a world power during the progressive era (circa 1890-1920)

From fast times to depressed times (circa 1917-1936)

The New Deal and World War II (circa 1932-1945)

Power and responsibility in a troubled world (circa 1945-1970)

Continuing quest for world peace in a nuclear age (circa 1970-present)

B. What is the Essence of the American Character?
. The fascination with exploration, discovery, control, and development has been a dynamic feature of the American personality from initial settlement in the colonial period to the development of the space program.

Important elements

Vision of Columbus and Isabella (1492-1503)

English colonizing expeditions, individual, and joint stock companies (1580's-1620)

Vision of Jefferson--Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803-1806)

From Jedediah Smith to John C. Fremont (1826-1847)

Dust Bowl calamity from over-development

The moonwalkers (1969) and the space program
. Religion has played an important role in the shaping of the American character.

Important elements

European explorers and their religious mission

Puritans, Separatists, Quakers, and the religious motives for colonization

The "established" church and the struggle to separate church and state

Anti-slavery movements and the support of organized religion

Religious intolerance

The political impact of organizations such as the Moral Majority and the Council of Bishops
. American history has been shaped by international migrations that have brought the nation numerous people attracted by the potential for new opportunities and seeking release from oppression, want, and fear.

Important elements

Enclosure movements in England and Europe

Irish potato famine in mid-1840's

Japanese contract labor after 1870

Eastern and Southern Europeans

Jews from Nazi Germany

Post-World War II refugees
. American culture owes much of its identity to the influences of and the tensions among the highly diverse peoples who have come to the United States with their distinctive customs, languages, perspectives, and traditions.

Important elements

Old World encroachments on the Amerindian peoples

Slave trade and the forced migration of African peoples

Steady European immigration from Colonial times into the 20th Century

Waves of Asian immigrants from 1850 to the present

Shifts in immigration laws and the upswing in legal and illegal immigration

Recent influx of residents from Southeast Asia, Mexico, and Central America and the urban unrest
. American history has been characterized by the continual process of shaping and reshaping the environment, a process accelerated by the belief that the nation's resources were unlimited.
. The energy and initiative generated by people coming to America from colonial times to the present has become an integral part of the nation's continuing belief in the future and an optimism toward the solution of problems.
. Inherent in our basic documents are beliefs in the worth and dignity of the individual, the right to freedom, and equality before the law.

8. An understanding of the roles, contributions, and living patterns of the common people is important to a comprehension of United States history.

9. Traditionally, Americans are known as people who work hard, are inventive, and are willing to search for orthodox as well as unorthodox solutions to problems.
0. The spirit of the American people has been expressed through creative activities of the individuals and groups in architecture, the visual and performing arts, literature, and related fields of aesthetic expression.
1. The historic concept of social responsibility in American history encompasses the individual; the family unit; and civic, philanthropic, and religious organizations.
2. The nature of a representative democracy has led America to establish and support a broad-based public education system to create an informed citizenry.
3. The American character has been tested and refined during times of crisis.
4. The American political, governmental, and legal systems reflect the continuing struggle in a democracy for a balance between individual rights and the public good.
5. Americans have historically initiated major reform movements.

C. How has the United States governmental system evolved?

1. British colonial policies and the British North American ascendancy by 1763 gave Americans a political and legal heritage that was primarily British.
. American history has been profoundly shaped by the presence of strong, dedicated, and aggressive individuals and groups, who, through political and economic institutions, have been able to influence the direction of American development.
. The effort to create checks and balances in governments and decision making has caused a continual evolution in the patterns of governance at local, state, and national levels.
. The formation and evolution of political parties in the United States has proceeded from limited citizen participation in the political process to the current two-party system through which voting rights and privileges are exercised by citizens.
. The United States governmental system evolved in tension between emphasis on communal responsibility and individual desires.
. American foreign policy has been characterized by recurring periods of isolation and international involvement.
. The causes and consequences of American military involvements are often more significant than the actual military actions, creating repercussions in the nation's social, cultural, political, and economic organization.

8. The United States, in becoming a central participant in the international economic system, has developed social, political, and economic outlooks that are global in perspective.

D. How has our nation grown and changed?
. Geographic factors have influenced the economic, social, and political development of the United States.
. The presence of a frontier through much of our development as a nation has greatly influenced American history.
. American history exhibits a rich ideological development.

Intellectual rationalism of the 18th century

Romantic emphasis of the early 19th century

Materialism, radicalism, and pragmatism current at the end of the 19th century

New liberalism of the first half of the 20th century
. A variety of labor systems have been employed in the development of America's resources.
. Scientific, technological, agricultural, and industrial advancements have had a significant impact on the population patterns and economic conditions of the United States.
. Access to and control of renewable and non-renewable resources in North America have been dynamic factors in the history of settlement and economic development and the quality of life in the United States.
. The increasing attraction to the city has created a tension between the farm and the city over population, resources, and legislative action since colonial times.

8. The expansion and growing importance of the media has had impact on the social, economic, and political developments of the United States.

9. The pace of change in America has been accelerating steadily and has had great influence on social as well as economic elements of our society.
0. The United States has played a major role in the technology and politics of the Nuclear Age.

Vol. 04, Issue 01

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