Forming the Concept of Nationalism

Angelina Kreger, BHP Teacher
Michigan, USA

Each Big History unit asks students to investigate a variety of sources to create a sense of the larger historical context. This shifting up and down in scale is a unique hallmark of the BHP course. What does the world look like from a universal, global, national, or individual perspective at a given point in history? Lesson 9.5’s Forming the Concept of Nationalism¹ activity provides students an opportunity to look at three vignettes of various nationalist movements, analyze the facts, and determine what similarities there are among the movements.

Eugène_Delacroix_-_La_liberté_guidant_le_peuple

Liberty Leading the People (Eugène Delacroix, 1830) is a famous example of nationalist art. Public domain.

Building on the investigative skills that learners have developed in each unit Investigation (an Investigation is essentially an extended DBQ), students are asked to gather evidence to support their views. I have students complete the activity independently and then I host a discussion about what similarities they found, and what evidence backs them up. Many highlight findings outlined in the teacher answer key, but some make even larger or more nuanced connections.

This is a great activity if you’re teaching BHP with a world history focus, because very quickly students see the common threads that tie many nationalist movements together. If you’re teaching a semester course, like me, this is a great place to discuss how historians must exercise caution when interpreting events to make valuable connections. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about this activity in BHP’s Online Teacher Community!

About the author: Angelina Kreger is a veteran high school history teacher and instructional coach in Novi, MI. She has five years’ experience teaching Big History to twelfth graders in a semester-long format.

¹ This lesson was adapted from a lesson by Lauren Harris and Tamara Schreiner in World History For Us All[http://worldhistoryforusall.sdsu.edu/units/seven/landscape/07_landscape6.php]

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