World History 1A and 1B

Grades: World History A: 98%; World History B: 100%

For World History A and B, I used the Compass Learning curriculum that was available through my online school for freshman year, Christa McAuliffe School of Arts and Sciences (CMASAS).

This curriculum is entirely online with quizzes and tests that challenge a student’s mastery of the topic before moving to the next subject.

However, I will note that, unlike with Compass Learning Biology, I found this class to have very dry and cumbersome readings. Other than that, it was very comprehensive and challenging.

Here is the syllabus as written in the CMASAS course catalog:

“In World History, students study major turning points that shaped the world, from the time of the early River Valley Civilizations and Classical Civilizations (Greece, Rome, Han China, India) through the present. They will compare early civilizations and look at the rise of religions, trade routes, etc. and how those impacted societies across the globe. They trace the rise of democratic ideas and develop an understanding of the historical roots of current world issues, especially as they pertain to international relations.Students will look at a variety of perspectives to learn the story of the past. They will build on basic social studies skills such as cause/effect, comparison, and more.During World History A, students explore times periods from ancient times through the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s. Then in World History B, students will pick up with the turn of the twentieth century and work through modern history up to today.”

Throughout the course, I was also required to write responses to what my school called “Odyssey Writers” which I’m not certain was a product of my school itself or the Compass Learning curriculum.

For these, I had to write short answers to prompts and questions. Here are a few examples of the Odyssey Writers and my responses for this course:

Assignment: “Trace the rise of totalitarian governments in any two countries from among Asia, Europe, and Latin America.”

My response:

In Italy, the rise of a totalitarian government headed by Mussolini began with the Treaty of Versailles. Italy didn’t get what they wanted, which caused friction with other countries. They also were heavily in debt from so much spending during the war. Soldiers were now out of work and could not find jobs elsewhere. These conditions gave rise to Mussolini who was a powerful orator and got people riled up. He took control of Italy from the King without even a single shot being fired. He kept control through a lot of rigged elections. He also spoke out against leftist press and organized the Fascist party. His regime is a good example of how nations can become vulnerable to the appeal of totalitarian dictator because people are in desperate need of something to believe in and someone to blame, and when a powerful speaker like Mussolini inspires them, they will yield power to them.

Hitler in Germany came to rise under strikingly similar circumstances. Hitler was a very powerful orator as well and very nationalistic, like Mussolini. Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933. The Enabling Act gave him unlimited power for four years. Within months of that, all political parties except the Nazis were dissolved, and within his own party, Hitler eliminated – literally – anyone who might be competition for power. He began rearming Germany which brought more jobs in factories, which people desperately needed, while also making Germany better armed and more powerful, despite the sanctions of the Treaty of Versailles. Then when a young Jewish boy murdered a German diplomat, Hitler used that to justify Kristallnacht. In the end, six million Jews were killed by the end of World War Two. Hitler is the excellent example of how a leader can become more powerful using hate as a weapon.

And another:

Evaluate the impact of European conquests in the last half of the nineteenth century.

European conquests had an enormous impact on much of the world in the last half of the nineteenth century. The concept of imperialism played a major role as powerful nations established settler and exploitation colonies wherever they could. These colonies tended to harm, and often kill, the native populations of these regions. They were established for trade reasons, and also were placed in strategic locations as well as places where a colony would be an advantage to a nation’s military forces.

In Africa, the slave trade brought on the partitioning of the entire continent, although Europeans were not only after slaves, but also natural resources and raw materials, such as oil and rubber, which were needed with industrialization. By 1875, Africa was almost entirely divided among England, France, Germany, Belgium, and Portugal. The dynasties of China were also challenged by European nations at a time when they were already struggling with internal conflicts. China did not desire European goods, but the influx of opium changed everything and brought about the Opium wars when China’s emperor tried to halt the drug trade. China lost Hong Kong to the British, and suffered many other concessions when they lost to Britain. Great Britain, (and also Russia, although this question only asks about European conquests) was a major player in the “Great Game” which was the race to colonize, securing territory and establishing influence. But they weren’t the only player in the “Great Games.” Also involved were the Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and also the United States, even though this question only asks about European nations.

Or this one:

Analyze the causes and effects of World War I and World War II.

My response:

“There is considerable overlap among the causes of World War I and World War II. Most people will point to the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife. But there are so many other factors to it. There was an arms race among nations, countries kept forming alliances with other countries, and as a result, there were ethnic tensions that arose partially out of the imperialism that was going on prior to the war. Similarly, World War 2 was caused by some of the same overriding factors. First off, the Treaty of Versailles which ended World War I left Germany suffering. This caused a lot of vulnerability to a leader who was a powerful speaker and very effective at putting the blame on others for Germany’s problems, like Jews and Catholics. This led to a lot of nationalism in Germany and eventually led to Hitler starting to take over places in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles. Meanwhile, Mussolini organized the Fascist party in Italy and allied with Hitler. In Russia, Stalin took over and wanted to become a world power, as did Japan, who was busy in taking over weak parts of China, like Manchuria, which was already facing a civil war, so it would be easy for Japan conquer it. As you can see, there is a pattern here: countries become greedy for power, and create nationalism and hatred for anyone except their own nation, which justifies in their minds going to war. 

“As for the effects of both wars, one could say that World War II WAS an effect of World War I. The treaty of Versailles left Germany in havoc and caused so much friction and hatred that people embraced leaders like Mussolini and Hitler, among others. The effects of World War II were very interesting in particular for the U.S. because it left the U.S. and U.S.S.R. as the leading world powers. The launching of 2 atomic bombs over Japan caused the end of the war, but also caused friction between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. because we did not alert them that we would do this, even though they were considered an ally. This began the new Cold War and a new arms race between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. Also, the Soviets were able to occupy Berlin which Britain was not okay with, but the Americans allowed.”

These “Odyssey Writers” were a little too restrictive for me. I found it challenging to answer some of the questions they posed in just the one or two paragraphs that were requested of me.

Thus, as is usually the case with me, it was what my learning inspired me to do outside of what was required of me that I found the most challenging. In fact, it was around this time that I became a little more prolific on my website about more weighty topics, like this article I wrote in response to the lesson on Imperialism:

Right is a Four-Letter Word

Some of the assignments were meant to be more creative, like this humorous “Op-Ed” I was tasked with writing from the point-of-view of a Barbarian during the fall of the Roman empire.

Note: Again, this is an op-ed written from a drastically different time period. There is nothing politically correct about it.

Op-Ed:

Up with the Barbarians, Down with the Romans 

By Tom Barbarioni of Tom’s Tunics

After so many years of serving Romans, Rome has finally fallen. It’s not surprising. Roman men are lazy, good-for-nothings who don’t even want to leave their homes to fight. They just wanted Barbarians to fight for them. Roman men are always bickering amongst themselves. They call it “civil war,” but it’s just bickering.

As an independent business owner here on Colosseum Drive, I am tired of high taxes and that Rome is constantly changing its emperors. The roads in Rome are bad. People cannot get to my tunic shop because the road in front of my tunic shop is horrible. 

It’s no wonder barbarians took over. Problems are too big to be fixed in Rome. It’s time for a change, and if Barbarian rule increases my business, that’s perfectly fine with me.

Frankly, I found assignments like this to be a little on the sophomoric side. There is little humorous about an era in history full of bloodshed and violent transformation. But as with all high school students out there, sometimes, we just do as we’re told.

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