By Irene F. Starkehaus -
Per Victor Hugo, there is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come. For the purposes of this discussion, the idea is nothing less than the brainchild of technology overlord Bill Gates and Oxford scholar David Christian. Their offspring has been christened Big History and its coming to a high school near you by some organically grown design or another.
Now, to set the record straight, the concept behind Big History isn't completely without merit if we consider the possibilities. I actually love the idea in its generic form. The theory, that is. Within the crunchy-granola, one-world exterior that is the purpose of every Bill Gates initiative lives a kernel of innovation in education that absolutely could improve a student's ability to recognize the cause and effect of any given problem and promote big picture solutions.
If any of you are familiar with the BBC series Connections starring James Burke it's a bit like that, but instead of being offered to the general TV viewing public as an everyman's History Channel look at the world, it's for course credit. You know, how did the discovery of indigo bring mankind to the evolving dollar menu at McDonald's…it's that kind of otherwise random but oddly connected thinking. It's all about stepping outside the preconceived silos of study and seeing the interconnections that exist between science and history – what a great way to make learning more relevant. Why be satisfied with knowing that Earth is round when you can connect it to the reason that people started wondering about its shape in the first place.
David Christian has been offering college courses steeped with this very methodology since the 1980s. In 2010, he offer the following prediction about the future of history:
Over the next fifty years we will see a return of the ancient tradition of "universal history"; but this will be a new form of universal history that is global in its practice and scientific in its spirit and methods.
Per the New York Times, that statement was made two years after Bill Gates supposedly stumbled upon Christian's course work through the Teaching Company's "Great Courses" series and began discussions with Gates about ways to open up this unique learning opportunity to high school students.
So Gates and Christian have begun concocting and offering the curriculum free to high schools as an end run around slow moving bureaucracies that bog down education reform. Reform as in Common Core, which is the other Gates brainchild that reinterprets American education for a homogenized global tomorrow – the reinterpretation in that particular scenario is for the so-called improvement of Math and Language Arts instruction.
Anyone with a child that is currently being swept away in the new math of a better tomorrow will appreciate the punchline that Bill Gates is becoming to our nation's students, teachers and parents alike. But I guess true genius is never understood in its own time. Que sera, sera. With the proper reeducation techniques in place, I'm sure he will be soon enough.
Gates and Christian are working directly with the schools to produce a learning system that is developed "organically" so that it can be adapted to the demands of the market place without government and special interest interference in its development. Again, great theory until you zero in on the reason that Gates is developing a new world history in the first place.
It's been piloted in 55 schools made up of 45 American schools and 10 Chinese and Dutch schools. New schools are being added all the time. Through the use of technology, the central plan of Big History appears to seek universalized and homogenized history from the Big Bang to modern times so as to reduce tensions between nations by negotiating the terms of truth thereby ending global struggles.
The predominant themes of this world according Gates lead the students to the conclusion that intelligent design is a myth, the planet Earth in the here and now is all there is and this means there is…wait for it…a global responsibility for each person to save our "fragile planet" from certain destruction. There is an emphasis on overpopulation, ecological burden and the divisions created by nations, religions, and cultures. Missing in this version of world history are any mentions of Plato, Locke, Kant, Hegel and Shakespeare. See Gates' Big History Project Closes Young Minds to God on The Imaginative Conservative blog for a broad critique of the proposed curriculum.
Never mind the utter hubris of allowing that the truth is what Gates-Christian decide it is, this is an interesting cultural conundrum that we are driving ourselves to by allowing Gates to expand his monopoly from technology into the dissemination of knowledge without halting the process while our children are still capable of dissent.
Take my research for today's article as a for instance. I had never heard of the Big History project until I virtually tripped on the internet article from the New York Times – which is predictably enthusiastic for the full adoption of the Gates global history protocols. Having read the NYT piece, the idea sounded great but then again, this is the New York Times that we're talking about here, so I thought to myself, "You know what? I'd better get a dissenting opinion before I get too excited."
So I did an internet search with the terms Bill Gates and Big History and that search returned site after site offering the same title. "With Help From Bill Gates, 'Big History' To Reach 15,000 Students" with only one dissenting post from an evangelical minister that one can safely postulate was allowed for its willingness to provide debate points on the acrimony created by religion.
I couldn't get over how strange it was that there were no returns on the first page for a viable dissenting opinion on Big History.
Must be an algorithm glitch, right? Until it occurred to me that – oh. I used the Bing search engine. Interesting. And of course, I'm predisposed to loathing Google for its cloying, insidious, universal invasion of one's privacy once it's allowed onto a computer, so I tried the Ask search engine and got…?
Variety. Messiness. Differing points of view. Go figure.
And that's a pretty good assessment of what will happen as we turn the education of our children over to one monopolistic point of view. Dissent will simply no longer exist and within a generation, our progeny will not be able to conceive of a life where people embraced the risks associated with liberty.
It will be the death of free will and the death of history. Bill Gates and David Christian would seem fairly convinced that the only way for the human race to survive is to give us all lobotomies and fill the empty spaces with a universal fairy tale of their own choosing. Through this unique event in human consciousness…erasure, like overwriting a cassette tape…peace and harmony and ecology will be achieved. National borders – like math and literature and now history – will be shattered and the world will be replaced with a better revelation than the one of which God conceived.
God made Man. Man rejected God. Man killed himself. And then there was darkness.