Thursday, July 16, 2015

What Makes Us Civilized?

This is always fun to discuss in class!  Especially World History and Oklahoma History.  The other classes it is already established and really does not need to be discussed.  What makes us civilized?  Are we civilized?  It is a fun question to ponder!  And I love what answers you the students come up with!  The obvious answers always come up.

A civilized person is someone who dresses, has personal hygiene  and is articulate.  We all have different ideas of what it means to be civilized, and it is fun to discuss.  After teaching this I notice it comes up in society.  One day my class was looking at ISIS, and a student said they are not civilized!  I found that response fascinating!  What makes them uncivilized?  I agree with that statement, but I want my students to be able to articulate their positions.

One of my favorite movies is Argo!  It is about when Iran took the Americans hostage in the 1970s, and 6 got out.  So the C.I.A. sends in Tony Mendez to save them!  It is SO GOOD, and I watch the trailer periodically, and I noticed something one time when I watched it.  President Carter says Iran has shocked a civilized world.  I thought that was an interesting set of words!  I do think we have expectations of people,  groups, and countries.

No matter what you think makes people civilized - history has a definitions  They say a group is civilized if they have these things:
A Belief System

Do you notice it is not defined.  History just says a Belief System and Government.  History does not say which is the right one!  That I believe is hard for us because we are attached to our government, belief system, and etc.  But that is what is great about the world!  There are so many options!  And one is not better than the other!

When you see conflict of this ide of what is civilized and not civilized - it is when two cultures collide!  The best example of that is when the Europeans and Native Americans met.  They did not understand each other!  The Native Americans were curious about the Europeans and the strange tools they had, but the Europeans wrote them off.  They  said they were uncivilized savages!  They said that because their life and society was completely different than theirs.  They did not understand them!  And because of that they said they were uncivilized.

But accordfng to the historical definition they were civilized because they had everything on the list.  Sadly for them the European technology was better, and it allowed them to overpower the Native American population.   So I end my lesson with a throwback to childhood.  Pocahontas Colors of the Wind.  Everything she sings in that song to John Smith is perfect!


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