Aquinas Academy in Greensburg, PA
CURRICULUM REVIEW: 10,000 Shovels
RECOMMENDED, WITH RESERVATIONS BECAUSE OF COPYRIGHT AGE
I reviewed the curriculum called 10,000 Shovels: China’s Urbanization and Economic Development, published by SPICE, the Stanford Program on International and Cross-cultural Education. This is a curriculum that comes with a CD-ROM and is copyrighted 2006, so at this point it is almost 15 years old! I searched Stanford’s website to see if an updated edition was available for purchase, but it wasn’t clear from the website what the copyright date is of the edition for sale. I noticed that the curriculum online is being sold with a DVD rather than a CD-ROM, though, so it is possible that there is a more current edition available.
I wasn’t able to access a computer that could read the accompanying CD-ROM, so I’m not able to comment on the film portion of 10,000 Shovels, but overall the text-based portions of 10,000 Shovels strikes me as a useful teaching resource, despite its age. The main topics of this curriculum are urbanization and economics in China, two disciplines that by their very nature are ever-changing and evolving. Therefore, if educators were to use this curriculum in the classroom, it would be critical for teachers to make sure they fact-checked any statistics published in the resource and provided students with up-to-date information. Ultimately, though, this is a high-quality curriculum that provides detailed lesson plans complete with rubrics, handouts, many discussion questions, a variety of lesson activities, and extensive bibliographies.
10,000 Shovels is designed as a high school curriculum, but I thought it contained some ideas that could be adapted for upper elementary students. For example, there are very good discussion and reflection questions to use with students when teaching about country-to-city migration and the changes that China has seen in its use of food, water, energy, cars, and land. There was one activity in particular that I think I would be fun to do with my sixth graders: compare and contrast an American McDonald’s menu with a Chinese McDonald’s menu. The context for this activity is that China’s urbanization has resulted in high numbers of multinational corporations such as fast food restaurants present in its cities, which significantly contribute to the country’s gross domestic product. This activity includes a discussion guide on the health, cultural, and economic implications of these fast food restaurants. This is an example of just one of the activities in this curriculum that could be adapted to be accessible for junior and senior high school students.