Earned Knowledge: L1, P4

We also know a good deal of how these people lived from the words they left behind. In our next lesson we’ll cover a group of people called Sumerians, who developed from this group. And one thing we find is that the Sumerians used quite a few words that were borrowed from another language… words that weren’t part of their own language.

In other words, the Sumerians adopted quite a few of their words from the people we’ve covered in this lesson. And that means that the things described by the borrowed words were part of these people’s lives. Here they are:

Farmer, herdsman, fisherman, plow, furrow, palm (tree), date, metalworker, smith, carpenter, basketmaker, weaver, leather-worker, potter, mason and (perhaps) merchant.

These words tell us how these people lived. These are things that were normal to them. Their lives were filled with farming, fruits, vegetables and grains… with herding, meat and fish to eat… with things made of leather and metal… with things made of wood… with buildings made of brick and stone.

And so, the daily life of these people, even so very long ago, was not terribly different from our own. If we could go back in time there would certainly be modern things we’d miss, but we could very well understand how they lived day by day.


Lesson Plan:

Have the student or students read and understand the lesson, however works best for them. Speed should not be a factor; what’s crucial is that they absorb the material. If it takes a week, fine; if it takes a month, that’s fine too, and perhaps even better. Professor Benjamin Bloom found a massive difference (2 sigma) between children who understand all of their lessons before moving on, and those who were forced to move on because the teacher ran out of time. Work all this material into your students.

The map on page 1 was intentionally left blank. Have the student identify the places with both maps and globes. The Persian Gulf would be a good place to start. Have the student identify the shaded area on the map. (That’s the Zagros mountains, which forced these people to stay to the west.)

If you have a dark, comfortable place and a clear night, have them sit under the stars for an hour, talking gently about what they are seeing, or perhaps just observing in silence.

Have the student cook with heated rocks. (Clay balls would take further steps, but rocks are easy to gather and can be heated in a barbecue.)

Have them demonstrate (not just describe) one or more simple machines. Remember, this is about earned knowledge; these facts must become as concrete as possible to them, not merely abstract.

You should demonstrate each of the simple machines carefully, so each child understands how they work… why they work. Here are some ideas:

    • You can demonstrate a lever with a strong board and any kind of fulcrum, lifting something heavy with a finger.
    • You can demonstrate a wheel with a bicycle or tricycle, showing how much easier it is to roll someone than to carry them.
    • You can demonstrate a pulley with a rope over a tree branch.
    • You can demonstrate an inclined plane with almost any kind of loading ramp. Show them how hard it is to lift something heavy to that height, but how much easier it is to roll or slide it up the ramp.
    • Wedges can be a bit difficult to demonstrate, but an illustration of a splitting wedge should be sufficient.
    • Screws can be easily enough demonstrated with a standard machine screw and nut, showing the child how the nut moves along the screw (if the screw is stationary), or how the screw moves through the nut, once the nut is held stationary.
  1. If the students are old enough, have them come up with their own demonstrations.

Have them answer questions about the map at the top of page 4. Or better still, have them trace and mark it it, showing where these people were at a certain date that you specify.

Ask questions about house burning (why do you think they did that?” and so on), allowing them to remain unanswered. Ask “How could we prove one of these ideas true?” The purpose here is for them to learn, directly, about proving things. You want them to come up with, and refine, their own ideas.

Finally, please take whatever side-paths seem useful. As we noted in the introduction, this curriculum is intended to be something you work from, not something you rigidly follow. Your goals are to work knowledge into your students and to leave them confident.