In the Classroom: World History

Hiapo Emmons-Shaw, History Department Chair, believes in creating engagement through debate in the classroom.
It’s a Friday afternoon and a group of freshmen are engaged in a heated debate: has civilization, with all its associated complex institutions, been a positive development for humanity or a negative development?

Just another day at WMS.

Hiapo Emmons-Shaw, History Department Chair, believes in creating engagement through discussion in the classroom. To further this, he recently had the members of his 9th grade World History class take a position on the benefits and drawbacks of early human civilization and defend it before their peers. Students constructed their own arguments, pointing to social stratification, use of resources, the development of writing, population growth, agricultural surpluses, politics, conflict, and war to defend their arguments.

“It’s the first time I’ve used these kinds of debates in a while,” says Hiapo, “but I like them because they require students to work together as a team. They require logical thinking, use of real-world examples, and public speaking.

“Students have told me they like the assignment because of the competitive aspect, because it allowed them to communicate their knowledge verbally, and because they got immediate and real-world feedback on their performance.”

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