For Teachers: Lessons

Standards of Modernity — China and Europe

Kelly Donaghue, Harbor School, Boston, Massachusetts


In this lesson, students will examine and analyze various technologies and ideas associated with "modernity" by the 19th century. Upon careful review and comparison of European and Chinese factors- students will engage in a debate regarding the following guiding question:

"What, by the 19th century, constituted modernity, and how do Europe and China compare in their fulfillment of that standard?"

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Understand and identify what was modern by 19th –century standards
  • Analyze and compare the abilities of China and Europe to fulfill those requirements
  • To determine what role Eurocentricity has played in traditional teaching of “what is modern?”

Grade Level and Time Required

Grades 9-12; two class periods, with homework assignments