In what ways did Roman inventions affect later developments in European life? Prioritizing the Legacies from Ancient Rome

This article is the twenty-second of an ongoing series from EuroClio providing teachers with ideas and practical resources for teaching a range of topics in their classrooms. You can find a wealth of additional resources including units, source collections and eLearning activities on the Historiana website and you can read the other articles in the series here.

This activity uses the material of the source collection on Historiana to provide students with ways as to not only arrange those relationships by looking at the case of Roman legacies in 21 st century Europe, but also a method to analyze the effect that the past has on the present more generally. The source collection illustrates 14 ways in which ideas and inventions that began in Ancient Rome are still a part of contemporary societies.
In this activity students use categories that have resonance in most peoples’ lives in different historical periods and are therefore easily transferable into other situations past and present: administrative, cultural, daily life, economic, environmental, intellectual, political, social, and/or technological.

Since it is critically important to assist students to prioritize these various points, they are connected to lessons of history and ideas to understand the deep ways the past continues to influence the present and the future.

The accompanying eLearning Activity, which can be easily adapted to your class needs, gives students the opportunity to develop skills in evaluating historical evidence and to do the work of historians. It utilizes the sorting, prioritizing, and analyzing tools that are part of the e-learning building models. It asks students to use both their historical and contemporary knowledge to assess the relationship between past events and current affairs by investigating the role of
inventions and ideas developed in Ancient Rome to their use in today’s European civilizations.

Consider the 14 legacies that are listed in Historiana’s Source Collection

– Using Arches for Construction, Aqueducts, Newspapers, Laws, Books, the Julian Calendar, the Postal System, a Sewage System, Heating, the Use of Concrete, Surgical Tools, the Separation of Powers, the Spread of Latin, and the Spread of Christianity.

1) Group the legacies into no more than four defensible categories out of
the nine categories listed above and

2) Prioritize each of them according to their importance for the 21 st century European civilizations.

Once they have done this work, they can answer the overarching question: In what ways did Roman inventions affect later developments in European life?

While this activity gives instructions for individual students, it can be wonderfully adapted for group work (as I would have done in my classroom!), particularly in the form of a jigsaw (see:
https://www.teachhub.com/jigsaw-method-teaching-strategy) in which students do the first part in the first group and then move into a new group to share the work of the first group and to answer the overarching question.
This activity can also be easily edited and adapted to suit your classroom context or even applied to a different historical period by building your own online task in Historiana’s eLearning Activity Builder. Another extension activity would be to ask students questions about the kind of society that supported these inventions and/or made such a society possible in the past and compare and contrast that with the present.

Such work allows students to think and work like historians, as is emphasized in the History Thinking Project:
Why are such themes important? At the same time such material from the past can overwhelm students unless they are taught ways to make sense of such influences. Historical empathy, comparison and contrast, and significance are the most useful skills to meet these objectives. To assist this process of organizing material, categories are one method of making sense of so much information. In so doing students work on a variety of historical skills and gain a greater appreciation of the ability of people in Ancient Rome to have organized their lives in ways that
appeared to have met their needs and interestingly still influence us today.
Yet when students look at the material from Ancient Rome more closely and critically they can also appreciate many of these inventions required an unequal social and hierarchical organization. In consequence it becomes equally important to consider the ways in which 21 st century Europeans may learn from the past without simply accepting it as it were as a guideline for the present and future.

Acknowledgements

Historiana would not be possible without the efforts and generous contributions of historians and educators from Europe and beyondand the support of the Connecting Europe Facility of the European Union.

Great Men and Inventions: Providing Students Opportunities to Evaluate Bias and to Re-assess and Re-define Historical Terminology

This article is the seventeenth of an ongoing series from EuroClio providing teachers with ideas and practical resources for teaching a range of topics in their classrooms. You can find a wealth of additional resources including units, source collections and eLearning activities on the Historiana website and you can read the other articles in the series here.

This eLearning activity allows students not only the ability to grapple with a significant part of the early Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom in the 18th century, but also to assess how to speak about historical actors in history. The thought-provoking material on Historiana, Industrial Inventions provides students with the opportunities to place the development of new inventions in their historical context, evaluate their relative importance, as well as to assess the ways in which historians place certain peoples’ contributions in the forefront instead as collaborative work that required the work of others. Too often it is assumed that we only need to assess the work of certain men (rarely women) and not the social context in which they lived. This activity asks students to use one example and consider both a particular man’s role and the social context in which he lived. As historians, we assess and evaluate; as most educators emphasize, it is important for students to learn these skills as they navigate the world around them.

The accompanying eLearning Activity which can be easily adapted to your class needs, gives students the opportunity to develop skills in evaluating historical evidence and bias to do the work of historians. In it, they are asked to analyze the relative importance of each of these inventions and/or the environment of which it was a part before they answer several questions.

In so doing students work on a variety of historical skills:
1) evaluating the work of the others
2) assessing bias
3) developing newer models of historical analysis that could be used in other situations.

This activity can be easily edited and adapted to suit your classroom context or even applied to a different historical period by building your own online task in Historiana’s eLearning Activity Builder. Indeed it makes sense to consider this work as homework and in class students share their opinions with a partner, Then they can share their opinions with the entire class to evaluate the merits of their ideas and work collaboratively to defend the name or names that they chose.

Such work allows students to think and work like historians, as is emphasized in the History Thinking Project.

Why are such themes important? Students are inundated with information about the past and the present in the guise of objectivity and yet when one looks more closely it is apparent that that is less the case and that frequent ways of thinking are influenced by bias which is often implicit – as is the case with accepting the actors behind these inventions – rather than bringing them to an explicit discussion – as this activity does. There is nothing wrong with determining that Watt’s contribution was so instrumental in developing the steam engine that it should in fact be named after him, but then that discussion could help in thinking through the role in naming other inventions after certain individuals, won’t it?

Acknowledgements

Historiana would not be possible without the efforts and generous contributions of historians and educators from Europe and beyondand the support of the Connecting Europe Facility of the European Union.

How did the First Industrial Revolution Change Work Conditions in Producing Textile Goods? Providing Students Opportunities to Make Thoughtful Comparisons By Evaluating Images

This article is the sixteenth of an ongoing series from EuroClio providing teachers with ideas and practical resources for teaching a range of topics in their classrooms. You can find a wealth of additional resources including units, source collections and eLearning activities on the Historiana website and you can read the other articles in the series here.

This activity allows students not only the ability to grapple with a significant part of the early Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom in the 18th century, but also to assess how to look at the role of technology in societal changes. While the Industrial Revolution that originated in Great Britain directly affected life in Manchester, England, where more and more textile goods were produced in the newly constructed factories, it also dramatically affected other aspects of work in the production of cotton, whether in the fields in plantations in the Americas or in countless homes in Great Britain where cotton goods had traditionally been made. In so doing it led to vast changes economically, socially, demographically, and environmentally. In this eLearning Activity students can analyze what it meant for participants. Key Questions are “In what ways did industrialization change how most people worked? Were these changes more positive than negative? Explain.”

Given the significance of the use of technology and the related decisions made by the new group of entrepreneurs who wanted to make as much money as possible in all aspects of cotton production, the source collection focuses on helping students understand these changes from participants’ perspectives and look at positive, negative, and neutral consequences of these significant changes.

The accompanying eLearning Activity which can be easily adapted to your class needs, gives students the opportunity to develop skills in evaluating historical evidence and issues of change over time to do the work of historians. This activity asks students to look closely at some of the materials on Historiana’s source collection about People At Work: Changes Due to the Industrial Revolution.

This activity can be easily edited and adapted to suit your classroom context or even applied to a different historical period by building your own online task in Historiana’s eLearning Activity Builder . Indeed it makes sense to consider this work as homework and in class students share their opinions with a partner, Then they can share their opinions with the entire class to evaluate the merits of their ideas and work collaboratively to defend their responses.

Such work allows students to think and work like historians, as is emphasized in the History Thinking Project:
http://historicalthinking.ca/historical-thinking-concept-templates

Why are such themes important? Students are inundated with information about the past and the present in the guise of objectivity and yet when one looks more closely it is apparent that that is less the case and that frequent ways of thinking are influenced by the false assumption that newer is better than older and that technological adaptations bring progress. But progress needs to be evaluated in the more nuanced and historically balanced ways. What is intrinsically better with factory work that led to speed-ups and efficiency than working at one’s own pace? Why should machines guide how quickly one works? And where one works? Any of these questions could
lead to a productive Socratic Seminar discussion or a class debate. Given the current discussions about “Home Office” these questions are clearly quite current ones.

Acknowledgements

Historiana would not be possible without the efforts and generous contributions of historians and educators from Europe and beyondand the support of the Connecting Europe Facility of the European Union.