Integrating CAS and History

In IBDP there has been an emphasis in recent years in integrating the core (EE, TOK and CAS) with the course content in the different subjects. In history, it has been nearly effortless to integrate EE and TOK. The skills in the History IA layer nicely with the Extended Essay, and Theory of Knowledge and the inquiry-based approach to subjects is easily integrated into daily teaching, and again, the IA explicitly calls on TOK skills.

CAS can be integrated just as effectively, but less time and effort has put in this until now, and so many teachers haven’t really considered how to do this. As with EE and TOK, CAS and History will be seen as intrinsically related to one another, but it will take a bit of time and intentional action on the part of teacher and coordinators for this to take place.

An opportunity has arisen recently that the IBDP offices have raised. A project has come available through the World War I Centennial Commission. There are educational resources available that you can access: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/

You will see that these resources are very focused on the US. Not surprisingly, European and Canadian schools and centers place a lot of emphasis on World War I: its relationship to current events are evident on a daily basis, and the War’s impact is not just understood, it is often part of the national ethos.

In the United States, however, this war is often glossed over. The US involvement came late, and World War I is seen as supporting evidence for the idea that the US ‘saved’ Europe – most notably in World War II, but in the First World War as well. The emphasis in the general curriculum has been limited – there were so few US casualties, and the US almost immediately retreated back to non-intervention in European affairs, seen most obviously in the unwillingness to join the League of Nations. One of the most pointed demonstrations of US attitudes towards the First World War is that there is not a monument to that war in Washington DC. Yet.

The Centennial Commission is an attempt to raise the profile of this war in the US. The website is a work in progress, and is developing as I write this.

Returning to CAS: a number of schools have undertaken projects that involve local cemeteries where World War I veterans are interred. Again, this is easier in some places than in others, but it provides an interesting jumping-off point for the students. They can research how people in their locale participated in the war effort and then develop a project based on that. If your school is interested in extended service options, caretaking the local cemetery is an excellent way to provide local service. For creativity, the research can lead to some form of presentation and activity in the greater community – or within your school. Another approach is to look at records that are easily available. The Rainbow Brigade, or 42nd infantry, has extensive sources available that you can use in your teaching of the subject that may inspire students to extend their interest in the subject. You can see those here: http://www.rainbowvets.org/wwi.

There is just one rule to keep in mind: you cannot double-dip with CAS and class hours; work that students do count for one or the other. As long as you follow that rule, and think creatively, you will come up with a great way to bring CAS into your classroom – and vice versa!

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