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June 1999 - Issue No. #35 (p.21)

Resource books for teaching about the millennium

As 1999 draws to a close and we approach the new century, the millennium will become a hot topic in the mass media. Unfortunately, many of our students seem more interested in the prophecies of Nostradamus than in global issues, social responsibility and the challenges of the 21st century. The millennium presents a perfect opportunity for global educators to promote historical understanding, critical thinking and action for a better future. The following resources can help language teachers to teach more effectively about this upcoming historic event.

The Millennium: The Unofficial Guide

by Bob Fowke (1998)

London: Hodder Children's Books [ISBN 0-340-73612-7]

This slim paperback combines cartoons, quizzes, historical and scientific information to provide an educational and enjoyable everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-the-millennium guide to the year 2000. Read about dates, calendars and counting systems in world cultures. Find out about crazy cults, millennium messiahs, apocalyptic religions and prophets of doom. Follow the changing image of the millennium in history. Take the millennium super quiz. Recommended!

The Year 1000: Life at the Turn of the First Millennium

by R. Lacey & D. Danziger (1999)

London: Little Brown [ISBN: 0-316-64375-0]

This book presents a vivid portrait of life in England a thousand years ago at the dawn of the first millennium - a world of kings and peasants, saints and slaves, paganism and Christianity. It describes a time of no sugar or spinach but which knew brain surgeons and property developers. While prophets of doom predicted the end of the world, AD 1000 saw the arrival of the concepts infinity, zero and the first calculator - the abacus. A good introduction to medieval English life.

Questioning the Millennium: A Rational Guide to an Arbitrary Countdown

by J. Elkington & J. Hailes (1993)

London: Vintage [ISBN: 0-09-976581-0]

This book of essays, by the renowned American scientist and rationalist Stephen J. Gould, cuts through the millennium madness to focus on three questions: What is the millennium? When is the millennium? and Why are we so fascinated with calendar changes such as the millennium? Gould brings to bear a clear, scientific, humanist perspective to discuss topics as varied as God, history, culture, science, calendars, philosophy and politics, plus our fascination with arbitrary years ending in several zeros.

Manual 2000: Life Choices for the Future You Want

by J. Elkington & J. Hailes (1998)

London: Hodder & Stoughton [ISBN: 0-6790-84403-1]

This UK handbook ignores millennium superstitions and instead sees the year 2000 as the perfect chance to take action to solve the many social, economic, ethical and environmental problems which face our world. The book is packed with up-to-date information on global issues, essays on topics such as eco-taxes, ethical investment, computer recycling and e-cash, plus a 10-point Citizen 2000 agenda showing actions you can take to create a safer, saner world.

The Kids Guide to the Millennium

by Ann Love & Jane Drake (1998)

New York: Kids Can Press [ISBN: 1-55074-436-4]

This book is a creative and informative teaching resource for celebrating the end of the millennium which is designed to be used with children of ages 8-12. It includes a variety of enjoyable learning exercises, a number of interesting facts about the millennium and a time line beginning at the year 1 AD. In addition to looking at the history of human culture over the past 1000 years, it encourages children to look ahead and contemplate what the future may hold.

Why People Believe Weird Things: Superstitions & Confusions of our Time

by Michael Shermer (1997)

New York: W. H. Freeman [ISBN: 0-7167-3090-1]

This book, by a famous American sceptic, aims to explain why, in this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, so many people believe in superstitions, pseudo-science and just plain nonsense. Topics covered include belief in ghosts, extra-sensory perception, UFOs, alien abductions, Holocaust denial, witch crazes, creation science and racial superiority. With wit and eloquence, the author argues for the need to teach critical thinking and examines 25 common thinking fallacies that lead us to believe weird things.


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Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
E-mail: Work Tel/Fax: 0857-31-5650