Year 6: The Movement of Things

In the 2016/2017 school year, the students examined the ways that humans move things, the ideas that have transformed transportation, the distribution and redistribution of resources and power, and the way that we have moved around the planet. This year’s meta-arc topic was The Movement of Things, with subtopics of By Air, By Land, and By Sea.

We asked: Is it possible to gain meaningful insight into who we are by looking at how we have moved ourselves and the things we make, need, or want, around the planet? Unequal distributions of resources, both naturally occurring and artificially created, create opportunities that humans have, for better or worse, taken advantage of. Whether or not a product or resource can be moved from where it is to where it can be used or sold, depends on things like terrain, weather, and politics – none of which can be known completely. Thus there is inherent risk in moving things and people around, and those risks lead to mitigations like insurance and factoring bandits or pirates into the cost of doing business.

The discovery or emergence of great opportunities creates disruptions at all scales, and cities that once thrived can be left to crumble when their populations disperse or migrate. At every time in human history there has been reason to get things from one place to another, to travel for survival or pleasure. We are what we are because of how we move things around.

The arc topics transformed from questions about moving material goods around the globe into the ways that humans move themselves around the globe. In light of the political climate during this year, the students explored immigration in the United States and how the San Francisco Bay Area played a part in the immigration of many different cultures of people. We focused on empathy and history, compassion, and the spread and integration of ideas from across the world.