Note from the BHP Team: In this month’s Big Question article, BHP Science Advisor, Cameron Gibelyou, asks us to move beyond a pessimism for the future to the process of how to predict it. That process, Cameron argues, is to reason through the causes and effects of different possibilities, just as we do in evaluating history. Understanding the past and predicting the future is complex—there is no one reason for why things happened, just as there is no one conclusion about what is to come. (Although we do all have high hopes for flying cars.) If you need new content to keep students engaged in Unit 10, you found the place. Bonus: they’ll practice skills they’ve become proficient in over the course of the year: claim testing, disciplines, causation, and scale.
Teachers like you share their takes below, and we predict you’ll have fun joining them in the conversation that continues on Yammer.
First, this is a great article (way to go Cameron Gibelyou!). I think it would be good to use in Unit 9, when students have used these historical thinking skills but may need a refresher as the course comes to a close. It’s also a great way to transition from Unit 9 to Unit 10 and prompt discussions about the future. I would definitely break it up (my students would say that there are a lot of words in this article!). But I think that breaking it up would allow students to work with each practice (causation, disciplines/scale, claim testing) before attempting to use all of these to make some predictions about the future. You could also have student groups come up with some future predictions that could then be “tested” by other groups in the class.
Bridgette O’Connor, BHP Teacher, Grades 9 and 12
This is a fantastic article, Cameron Gibelyou! I love how it brings all the Big History skills and core content together in a cohesive manner. It’s the perfect transition from Unit 9 to Unit 10. Our final activity in Big History is to look at predictions made by French journalists in 1899 about what they thought the world would be like in the year 2000.After viewing their illustrations, students make predictions about the future (year 2100) using their Big History skills. This article is the perfect way to establish the mindset for thinking about the future.
In my class we would read and discuss the introduction collectively. I’d have students gather into small groups, then have each person take one section—Causation, Scale and Interdisciplinarity, and Claim Testing. I’m debating on whether to create guiding questions, but this late in the year I really want students to tackle this without my influence. The groups can then share information with their members before coming back to a large class discussion.
I like Bridgette O’Connor’s idea of having groups come up with predictions about the future and having other classes use the information from the article to evaluate them. It would be easy to move our predictions about the future activity to allow students the opportunity to test them in class.
Love the article—it’s got a lot of potential!
Kathy Hays, BHP Teacher, Grade 9
This article almost reads like a “review” of some of the course’s key concepts, with the fun-added aspect of predicting the future. It might be fun to have students read the article, then make (and justify) their own predictions for the future (claims!) and claim test each— other’s predictions.
Mike Marshall, BHP Teacher, Grade 9
I could see using this to kick off our second semester in January. I have students make predictions for the New Year (based on historical trend analysis). This could be a great pairing with the Isaac Asimov reading we do—a great review of the overarching BHP concepts to refresh our memories in a new semester.
Rachel Hansen, BHP Teacher, Grades 9–12
I’m thinking I would use it early on in the course to give my students a preview of what’s to come. The title of the article is similar to one of our yearlong Expedition driving questions: “How do we learn from the past to sustain the future?” This could be a great text to use as we kick off our studies. I would have to chunk it as it’s a lot of material for my sixth graders. I’m wondering about using a jigsaw protocol for the specific sections with some type of notetaking graphic organizer.
Devon Rose, BHP Teacher, Grade 6
North Carolina, USA
I would definitely use this along with a set of activities that we used last year in Unit 10. Part review and part closure, we have students write letters to their future selves where they make conjectures about what they think will happen by the time they have graduated from high school (they are sixth graders), along a continuum (here is where scale fits in) that stretches from individual to Universe. (I then hold onto these letters and deliver them to the students at the end of their senior year.) They also look at some conjectures made by David Christian in his newest book, Origin Story and use the four claim testers to decide if the conjectures are believable or unbelievable, and why. Definitely think that I will modify these activities to use with this article.
Zachary Cain, BHP Teacher, Grade 6
I think this would tie in nicely with our friend Hans Rosling’s video (Global Population Growth, Box by Box) about making predictions about future world populations. I think I would have students read Cameron Gibelyou‘s article first and then apply claim testers to Hans’s video.
Chris Steussy, BHP Teacher, Grade 9
Want to throw in your thoughts about how to frame the future in the classroom? Join the conversation on Yammer and share ideas with other BHP teachers to bring fresh content to students at the end of the school year!