What students should know:
World History and Geography: Ancient Civilization
EGYPT AND KUSH
GREEKS AND HEBREWS
Explain how civilization developed in the Indus River Valley.
Demonstrate an understanding of major people and developments in the rise of ancient Chinese civilizations.
RISE AND FALL OF ROME
Demonstrate an understanding of the development of the Roman republic and the spread of the Roman empire.
~ Know how to read latitude and longitude
SIXTH GRADE CONTENTS STANDARD5 - HISTORICALTHINKING
What students should be able to do:
HISTORICALTHINKING: SAMPLE ASSIGNMENTS - SIXTH GRADE
Chronological and Spatial Thinking
Diversity / Multiple Perspectives
Determining Historical / Geographical Significance
California History-Social Science Framework
GRADE SIX-WORLD HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY: ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS
In the sixth-grade curriculum, students learn about those people and events that ushered in the dawn of major Western and non-Western civilizations. Included are the early societies of the Near East and Africa, the ancient Hebrew civilization, Greece, Rome, and the classical civilizations of India and of China.
In studying the ancient world, students should come to appreciate the special significance of geographic place in the development of the human story. They should acquire a sense of the everyday life of the people; their problems and accomplishments; their relationships to the developing social, economic, and political structures of their society; the tools and technology they developed; the art they created; the architecture they lived with; the literature produced by their finest poets, narrators, and writers; their explanations for natural phenomena; and the ideas they developed that helped transform their world. In studying each ancient society, students should examine the role of women and the presence or absence of slavery. Among the major figures whom students should come to know are those who helped to establish these early societies and their codes of ethics, justice, and their rule of law, such as Hammurabi, Abraham, Moses, David, Pericles, and Asoka; those who extended these early empires and carried their influence into much of the ancient world, including Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Augustus Caesar; and those whose ideas and teachings became enduring influences in Western and non-Western thought, especially Socrates, Jesus, Buddha, and Confucius. For all these societies, emphasis should be placed on those major contributions, achievements, and belief systems that have endured across the centuries to the present day.
Early Humankind and the Development of Human Societies
This unit should develop the students' awareness of prehistoric people's chronological place on the historical time line. Attention should be given to paleontological discoveries in East Africa by Donald Johanson, Thomas Gray, and Mary Leakey, supporting the belief that ancestors of present-day humans lived in these regions between 2.5 and 3 million years ago. Studies of the Old Stone Age (Paleolithic), Middle Stone Age (Mesolithic), and New Stone Age (Neolithic) should provide students with an understanding of the interaction between the environment and the developing life-styles of prehistoric peoples as they moved from hunter-gatherers to food producers. These studies also should focus on early peoples' attempts to explain the universe through cave art and elemental forms of religion; the development of stone tools from simple to complex to metal; and the development of language as a medium for transmitting and accumulating knowledge.
The Beginnings of Civilization in the Near East and Africa: Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Kush
In this unit students learn about the peoples of Mesopotamia, with an emphasis on the Sumerians, their early settlements in the fertile crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the major events marking their sojourn: the spread of their agricultural villages by 4000 B.C. to lower Mesopotamia; their technological and social accomplishments, including invention of the wheel, plow, and irrigation systems; their systems of cuneiform writing, of measurement, and of law; and the developing social, economic, and political systems that these accomplishments made possible.
Moving next to ancient Egypt, the teacher introduces students briefly to the early reign of Khufu and then moves to an emphasis on the New Kingdom in the reign of Queen Hatshepsut. The New Kingdom was a time when Egyptian art and architecture flourished, and trade extended Egyptian influence throughout the Middle East. Attention should be given to the daily lives of farmers, tradespeople, architects, artists, scribes, women, and children; and to the great trading expeditions and building activities of that time. Geographic learnings include the importance of the Nile to Egypt's development and of irrigation practices that are still in use.
This unit concludes with Africa's oldest interior empire, the Kingdom of Kush, which conquered Egypt in 751 B.C. and established the twentyfifth dynasty of pharaohs. Conquered in turn by the Assyrians, the kings of Kush reestablished their capital farther south. Students should be introduced to the culture that developed there, including the development of iron agricultural tools and weapons; an alphabet; and a profitable trade that extended to Arabia, India, sub-Saharan Africa, and possibly China.
The Foundation of Western Ideas: The Ancient Hebrews and Greeks
The roots of Western civilization can be found in the enduring contributions of the ancient Hebrews to Western ethical and religious thought and literature, most notably by the Old Testament. To understand these traditions, students should read and discuss Biblical literature that is part of the literary heritage and ethical teachings of Western civilization; for example, stories about the Creation, Noah, the Tower of Babel, Abraham, the Exodus, the Ten Commandments, Ruth and Naomi, David, and Daniel and the Lion's Den; selections from the Psalms and Proverbs; and the Hebrew people's concepts of wisdom, righteousness, law, and justice.
In studying the civilization of the ancient Greeks, students learn of the early democratic forms of government; the dawn of rational thought expressed in Greek philosophy, mathematics, science, and history; and the enduring cultural contributions of Greek art, architecture, drama, and poetry.
In this unit, students will learn about the Greek polis (city-state); the rise of Athens; the transition from tyranny and oligarchy to an early form of democracy; the importance of the great fleet of Athens and its location at the crossroads of the ancient world; the rivalry between Athens and Sparta, culminating in the Pelopponnesian War; the Macedonian conquests under Alexander the Great, spreading Hellenistic culture throughout the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern worlds; and the fall of Greece to Rome. Attention should be paid to the daily life of women and children in Athens and Sparta, the games and sports of the Olympiad, the education of youth, and the trial of Socrates. Particular emphasis should be placed on reading and discussing the rich myths and Homeric literature that have deeply influenced Western art, drama, and literature.
West Meets East: The Early Civilizations of India and China
Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia and its territories provides the bridge to a study of the great Eastern civilization of India. Students should understand that the culture Alexander encountered in 327 to 325 B.C. was not the first civilization of this region. Over a thousand years earlier, a great civilization had developed in the Indus River Valley, reached its zenith, and collapsed. Succeeding waves of Aryan nomads from the north spread their influence across the Punjab and Ganges plains and contributed to the rise of a civilization rich in its aesthetic culture (architecture, sculpture, painting, dance, and music) and in its intellectual traditions (Arabic numbers, the zero, medical tradition, and metallurgy).
Students should be introduced to one of the major religious traditions of India: Buddhism, a great civilizing force that emerged in the sixth century B.C. in the life and moral teachings of "The Buddha" or Siddhartha Gautama. Through the story of Buddha's life, his Hindu background, and his search for enlightenment, students can be introduced to Buddha's central beliefs and moral teachings: unselfishness (returning good for evil); compassion for the suffering of others; tolerance and nonviolence; and the prohibition of lying, stealing, killing, finding fault with others, and gossiping.
Students also should learn about Asoka, the great philosopher king who unified almost all of India, renounced violence as a national policy, and established Buddhism as the state religion.
The northward spread of Buddhism in the first century A.D. provides students with a bridge to a study of China during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 220). Students should be helped to understand that the roots of this great civilization go far back into ancient times when Shang society (the "molders" of China) first emerged around 1500 B.C. in the Huang-Ho Valley and established the Chinese language and a highly developed technique of working with bronze. During succeeding centuries China grew by conquering the barbarians on its borders and absorbing the lands of these barbaric people as frontier states within Chinese society By the sixth century B.C., the balance of power between the princes of these newer states and the old imperial centers of central China had broken down, plunging China into political chaos and war. It was during this time, when traditional values were neglected and government was in disarray, that Confucius lived and wrote. He tried to make sense of a troubled world and proposed ways in which individuals and society could achieve goodness. The good person in Confucius's teaching practiced moderation in conduct and emotion, kept one's promises, learned the traditional ways, respected one's elders, improved oneself through education, and avoided people who were not good. The highest virtue for a gentleman, Confucius taught, was to govern. Attention should be paid to the role of women in Confucian society.
In 206 B.C. the Han Dynasty reunited China, made Confucian teachings official, and placed governmental administration in the hands of the educated Confucian civil service. Attention should be paid to the lives of ordinary people and the educated classes during this time of stability and prosperity. Confucian filial piety and family ties strengthened the social structure of Han society. Art, literature, and learning flourished. Agriculture, trade, and manufacturing thrived. Map study should help students analyze the growing trade and cultural interchange between China, India, and Rome at this time. The great caravan or "Silk Road" that linked China and the Middle East was in operation by the first century B.C. By the second century A.D., the various legs of the sea journey that linked China, Malaya, South India, and Egypt were completed, connecting the Far East with the Mediterranean world and Rome in one great commercial network.
East Meets West: Rome
The land and sea routes of the China trade provide students with a bridge for a return to the Mediterranean world and the study of imperial Rome. Students should learn about everyday life in Roman society, including slavery, social conflict, and the rule of Roman law They should learn about the emergence of the Roman Republic and the spread of the Roman Empire; and about Julius Caesar, his conquests, and his assassination in 44 B.C. They also should learn of the reign of Augustus, the "Pax Romana," and the eventual division of the Roman Empire: Rome in the West and the rising Byzantine Empire in the East.
Students should learn about the rise and spread of Christianity throughout the Mediterranean world and of its origins in the life and teachings of Jesus; Roman efforts to suppress Christianity; the consequences of Constantine's acceptance of Christianity (A.D. 313) and its subsequent establishment by Theodosius I as the official religion of the empire. Through selections from Biblical literature, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the parables of the Good Samaritan, the lost sheep, and the Prodigal Son, the students will learn about those teachings of Jesus that advocate compassion, justice, and love for others. To understand why the Romans thought Christianity posed a threat, students can read Paul's letter to Philemon, a letter whose moral teachings on slavery challenged by persuasion the social order and institutions of Rome.
Finally, students should compare Roman contributions in art, architecture engineering, political thought, religion, and philosophy with those of the earlier Greeks and consider the influence of both cultures on Western civilization and on our lives today.
Throughout these grade six studies, students should be engaged in higher levels of critical thinking. They should consider, for example, why these societies developed where they did (the critical geographic relationship between site, resources, and settlement exemplified in the river valley settlements of Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China); why societies rose to dominance at particular times in the ancient world (the importance of "relative location" in the case of ancient Greece, for example); and why great civilizations fell, including the collapse of the Indus civilization of India, the decline of Egypt in the years of the later empire, and the fall of Greece to Rome.
Students should examine factors of continuity and change across time in the development of these civilizations, observing how major beliefs, social organization, and technological developments of an earlier era were carried through the centuries and have contributed to our own life.
Students should engage in comparative analyses across time and across cultures. They should compare, for example, the factors contributing to the evolution of ancient societies across the whole of the ancient world; the evolution of language and its written forms in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China; and the origins of major religions and ethical belief systems that unified cultures and defined the good and right way to live. To support their analyses, students should develop mathematically accurate time lines that place events in chronological order and support comparative analyses of events simultaneously occurring in different cultural areas of the world.
Students should be engaged in mapping activities that support their analyses of where these societies first developed, the course of their spatial development over time, and their spatial interactions illustrated in the geographic movement of ideas, religious beliefs, economic trade, and military expansion throughout the ancient world.
To make these studies relevant for today, students should develop appreciation of the continuity of human experience, the great debt we owe to those who came before us and established the foundations on which modern civilizations rest, and the responsibilities we owe to those who will come after us.
The Fall of Rome
This unit completes the study of the rise and fall of Roman civilization. Students should develop a map of the Roman Empire at its height, review briefly the reign of Augustus, and consider the reasons for Rome's fall to invading Germanic tribes with attention to the role of Clovis, a Christian Frank.
To help students relate this remote historical period to the present, teachers should emphasize the lasting contributions of Roman civilization, especially in the areas of law, language, technology, and the transmission of the Christian religion to the West. By learning that the law codes of most Latin countries are still based on Roman law, students will appreciate the continuing importance of Roman law and justice.
Critical thinking skills can be developed by students as they compare citizen's civic duties as taught by Roman Stoic philosophers with citizen's civic responsibilities in America today. Such skills also can be developed by comparing modern-day public works, architecture, and technology with those of the Roman Empire.