Name: _________________________________ PD: _____
WHAP - Guns, Germs and Steel VIEWING GUIDE -- Episode 1 (first 30:00)
Try to picture the world as you know it today. Think of the entire globe. What places are developed, modern, advanced in technology? What places are not? How would you describe those differences? How might you explain those differences? Why is it that some places have a lot more “stuff” and trappings of “modern civilization” than other places? Can we explain those differences?
Now, think back to your earlier U.S. History and World History courses here and in middle school. Recall the encounter of the Europeans with the indigenous populations in the Americas. How was it that Spanish Conquistadors with just a couple hundred men were able to defeat much larger Incan and Aztec armies? How was it that the Europeans so easily conquered and dominated two large continents? What was going on? How can it be explained?
Today (and again much later in the course), we will be viewing excerpts from the film Guns, Germs & Steel. The film follows a book of the same name written by a UCLA scientist named by Jared Diamond which won the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction Writing several years ago. Diamond has an interesting hypothesis for how these inequalities came to be, and his explanation takes us back to where this course begins – at a time before recorded history, before humans had begun to live in “cities” or even communities, or even began to farm. He takes us back to about 10,000 BCE and makes a strong case about the very early global inequalities that allowed some societies and civilizations to flourish and others to remain, nearly literally, in the Stone Age well into the 20th century.
What to watch for in the film:
As you view the first 30 minutes of the film, take notes about:
I’ve listed some fact-based questions directly related to the film that you might think about as you watch the film. We will discuss them as class after the episode. Don’t worry about answering them specifically in your notes.
Some Questions to have in mind before film begins.
(Don’t worry about them too much as you view the film)
Put two columns on a separate sheet of paper to take notes during the video.
Preliminary Notes (key words, quick thoughts)
-- Questions / Theories / Evidence and Facts
Expanded Meaning (written soon after the film excerpt ends)
Post-Viewing Exercise work at home before the next class:
Try to make the meaning from your preliminary jotted-down notes more meaningful.
It is best to do this SOON after you view the film.
What do you make of Diamond’s theory?
Can geography fully explain the inequalities among different parts of the world today?
What weaknesses or strengths do you see in Diamond’s theory?