AP World History: Industrialization Spreads Lesson

With only 75 minute blocks I have had to get a bit more creative with how I combine topics or content in my lessons. Overall, I have about 18 hours less instructional time than I had with 90 minute blocks. Certain content and skills have to be prioritized.

I am trying to be creative in Unit 5 in order to buy some extra time for Unit 6, which is my favorite of the two. Admittedly, I see Unit 5 as being easier to move through quicker. For better or worse, I have grouped together some of the content from topics 5.4 and 5.6 in order to cover Industrialization’s spread outside of Europe.

The larger content goals of this lesson are to establish that industrialization, modernization, and westernization are not synonyms, understanding change requires recognizing unique cultural contexts, and that within colonial encounters and imperial relationships change flows both ways affecting everyone involved. The latter is not met entirely in this lesson, but provides a bit of foreshadowing for the next unit.

Part I: Meiji Restoration Context & Woodblock Printing Analysis

Unit 5 is a good opportunity to build some context on the Meiji Revolution and the general social and economic changes occurring in Japan during the mid-to-late 19th century; especially before these become more relevant in units 6 and 7. After introducing some of the background through lecture, I like to have students analyze some examples of woodblock printing that can help gain insight into these changes. My PPT can be found on the AP World Resource Page, but two of my favorites images are below. In all, this activity only takes about 25-30 minutes, depending on how much discussion gets going.

Since I teach in China this image and others like it are a good opportunity to discuss the question “Is technology culturally neutral?” Students often have insightful answers that prompt some good discussion that can easily extend to present-day globalization. Within this image, I want to make sure students recognize that industrialization, modernization, and westernization are not synonyms. Here, Japanese elite are using western dress along with western technology to appear more modern, especially in order to gain national respect for Japan, but there is still a significant amount of Japanese style and culture present. This dual nature of the diffusion of western technology and ideas offers opportunity for complexity and building historical empathy.

Students generally recognize quickly that this appears to be some sort of model factory that is open to the public. From this we can discuss that industrialization is a process that requires not just new technology, but new mindsets and perspectives. There is also a lot to unpack in terms of gender that can then be easily compared to industrialization in the West. Of all the images I use, this is the easiest one to source according to HIPP, which I usually ask students to do as a quick checkpoint in the block. Some of the western clothing of the onlookers not only reinforces themes of the earlier image, but is an opportunity to return to the concept of middle class identities. This conceptual, “big picture” approach that relies on a comparative lens is one of the foundational aspects of world history.

Part II: Egyptian & Indian Industrialization

The Egyptian attempts at Industrialization around the cotton industry under Muhammad Ali Pasha are specifically cited in the AP World History CED. Likewise, India’s industrialization as a colony is a very common topic that acts as a microcosm for the colonial experience.

At first I was going to use some primary source documents and do some sourcing practice, but then I remembered that the OER Project had some good resources on both of these topics. I pulled their write-ups on both case studies, which were only a few pages each, and prepped a quick “jigsaw” style activity. Half of my class read on Egypt and the other half on India. Then, I paired students up and asked them to brainstorm some similarities and differences between the experiences of both regions with industrialization. With the last 5 minutes of class I asked each pair to use their similarities and differences to construct a thesis statement that could be used in an LEQ on the topic. Some of my stronger pairs also integrated Japan’s success with industrialization into their arguments. All-in-all this part of the lesson was a larger success than I was expecting. I credit that to the quality of the OER Project resources and the power of integrating skill and content into every activity.

Next Steps

I follow up with a lesson on US vs. Russian industrialization to help underscore the differences between bottom-up and top-down approaches to industrialization. This topic is supported by the reading in Strayer’s Ways of the World. It is also a good entry point to a DBQ that I have used for a number of years that asks students to compare Russian and Japanese experiences with industrialization.

Since I am just starting Unit 6 with my students, I am a little behind where I usually am in terms of pacing. However, a skills-based approach that follows the CED always pays dividends on the exam. As much as I love getting lost inside the details of so many interesting topics, that is not what the AP World course is about.

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