How to Civilization: The most important class missing from school curriculums

This class is missing from high school curriculums

I found myself one day staring at a brick.

I can't even make a brick. This is primitive technology, folks

Rose-colored, potted with tiny holes, perfectly cut. It smelled earthy.

But I realized in that moment something unfortunate. It felt like impending doom.

I dig this primitive technology hobby. No pun intended. Yes actually yes there was.

I pulled out a knife to scrape the brick, but then stared at it, too

Where does metal come from???

My eyes went dry for lack of blinks. How do you make a brick? Where does metal come from?

I don’t know.

I don't know anything. I need to learn primitive technology

A brick? Metal? They seem so fundamental, so rudimentary. I don’t know about basic materials!

But I do know that falling objects accelerate at 9.82 meters per second squared without interference.

A golf ball and bowling bowl fall in gravity at the same speed if not interrupted by things like air interference

I know that Shakespeare is the godfather of English literature.

Shakespeare: the Godfather of English literature

I know that the square of a triangle’s hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. I know that photosynthesis happens in a chloroplast. I know that 1776 is an important year, and so is 1945. I can name capital cities, I type really fast, and like a lot of young people I learn new computer programs quickly.

But I can’t tell you how to make a brick or a knife, or how electricity works or what brings it to my home. I use a radio but hell if I know what’s going on inside that box.

How does a radio work? I think it's bunnies.

I drive around in a car! I fly on airplanes! I draw on paper! I eat FOOD!

Suddenly I realized that, were civilization to collapse, I wouldn’t know the first thing about restarting it

There's no app for the apocalypse

That realization hit me like a ton of bricks.

I need to learn how to make bricks!

Our technology-obsessed civilization has gotten so far ahead of itself that we’ve neglected to teach new generations about the basic building blocks that got us this far in the first place.

Rebuilding civilization from scratch requires important questions like how do you make soap, where does metal come from, how do you fire clay, how is food grown?

Sitting in front of the computer with a light on, coffee in a ceramic mug, listening to music, elbow resting on a plastic armrest, taking notes on paper, wearing clothes… I feel ashamed and ignorant.

My knowledge feels wholly inadequate. I want to know how to create these things.

I want to learn about bricks.

Students pursue things they’re interested in, but they have to be exposed to the thing in the first place. Students need a practical class that spurs them to understand the origins of modern technology.

The only way to truly comprehend a technology is by understanding how its constituent parts are drawn from the Earth.

How do you make bricks from clay?

This is why I propose establishing a required course for all high school curriculums. We will call it:

I propose a primitive technology class called How to Civilization 101

It will expose students to primary inventions and discoveries that laid the foundation of civilization. This pragmatic class will inspire those student intellects otherwise untapped by traditional courses’ material. For those more interested in immediately actionable knowledge, How to Civilization 101 will be indelibly intriguing.

The subject-matter is readily observable in everyday life.

How to Civilization 101 will be a year-long course, with an involved syllabus:

There will be 9 units of courses for the How to Civilization 101 class

How to Civilization 101 will be a favorite class. Parents won’t hear the end of it. And for some select students, it might even provide the academic direction they were lacking.

How to Civilization 101

The objective: Give students a pragmatic grounding in the elemental knowledge of civilization’s technologies.

The rationale: If you have to learn the alphabet to understand a novel, then you have to learn bricks to understand a building.

If you must learn the alphabet to understand a novel, then you must learn bricks to understand a building

Fin - Learn how to fire clay bricks!

Inspiring resources to learn about civilization’s building blocks

The Knowledge by Lewis DartnellThe Knowledge – How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm by Lewis Dartnell – Within this consolidated collection of prime information is the most useful material for a proposed How to Civilization 101. By the end of this book, readers have a much deeper understand of our civilization’s composition. It is very well-written.

Primitive Technology – This Aussie trudges into the bush to engage in a hobby called “Primitive Technology”, wherein you essentially try to rebuild basic tech using only what you find in nature. His YouTube channel has two dozen wonderfully condensed videos (no dialogue; turn closed captions on for explanations). This is the one that drew me in:

How It’s Made – Airing on the Science Channel, this show has been going strong for 16 years, amounting to 27 seasons of intriguing, quick videos and explanations about how everyday things are manufactured. If you can’t access the program on your TV, you can download episodes.

Where Good Ideas Come FromWhere Good Ideas come From by Steve Johnson by Steven Johnson – This book takes a look at how ideas are formed, with special attention paid to the liquid environments that encourage the kinds of interactions central to helping ideas flourish. I’m only half-way done reading, but I’d recommend it already.



More tales


One thought on “How to Civilization: The most important class missing from school curriculums

  1. Loved this tale, I am a high school teacher who would love to learn and teach this curriculum to alternative high school students.

Say something

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *