Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft, has a new obsession these days — history lessons.
The self-confessed nerd, who is now into philanthropy full-time, is accelerating efforts to get ‘Big History’ introduced as a course in high schools across America.
Created by Australian historian David Christian, Big History uses a synthesis of history, biology, chemistry, astronomy and other disparate fields to weave a unifying narrative of life on earth.
Watching the series on DVD six years ago, Gates was fascinated, noting on his blog that he had “never seen anything quite like it”.
Marveling at the framework for understanding all of history, from the Big Bang to present day, Gates tracked down Christian and arranged a meeting.
In just about two hours, an action plan was proposed: Gates will provide funding to create a Big History syllabus for high schools, and he will also be personally involved in the project.
Christian agreed it was a good idea and began adapting the college course into a high-school curriculum, with modules flexible enough to teach to freshmen and seniors alike.
Gates hired a team of engineers and designers to develop a website that will serve as an electronic textbook, filled with interactive graphics and videos, to offer a multifaceted historical account of any given subject.
After debuting in five high schools in 2011, the Big History Project has steadily gained traction due to the efforts of Gates and Christian, aided by a team of educational consultants, executives and teachers, the New York Times noted.
This fall, the project will be offered free to more than 15,000 students in some 1,200 schools in the US, bringing Gates’ vision to life.
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