February 18th, 2009



One of things I was thinking about as we explored the Chaco Canyon ruins on Monday was that I really feel ignorant about history. I probably know more than many Americans, but it just seems that there is so much to know and that we have been taught so little in school.

It seems that we are either taught from a temporal perspective or a spatial one. We learn the history of a country from beginning to end or we learn about a specific era. It seems that most teaching of US history goes by so quickly that one day you learn about all native cultures and then the next day you're dealing with the conquistadors. The next day we're landing at Plymouth Rock and the next we're fighting the Revolutionary War. We have also been cursed with Western-centrism. We know all about England, France, Spain, Portugal, but almost nothing about India, China, Japan, or the Pacific Islands.

I guess I am looking for a complete history of the World from beginning to end. As I stood in the ruins of Blanco House which was built around 900-1200, I wanted to know what was going on in the rest of the world. How did this civilization match up with the Aztecs, the Mayans, the Incas, the Chinese, the collapsing Roman Empire, the Celts, the Moors, etc. I guess I'm looking at a more temporal approach but one with a very broad spectrum, not just focused on a small region.

Does anyone know of a "Big Book of Human History?" I want to know more about the "ignored" cultures of the world and how they fit in to all of the other stuff we have been tuaght (usually incorrectly and/or out of context).