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Any Alternative Lists of “Great Men and Women”?


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Hi everyone.

I'm looking for alternative lists of great men and women in history from the ones in SOTW. 

We have started homeschooling recently and are using SOTW for our two oldest kids (DS8 and DD7). We all love the book so far (we are starting right at Volume 1). I'm also going through TWTM for the first time and have found a great deal of benefit in it.

That said, I was quite disappointed when going through the lists of “Great Men and Women” in TWTM, which struct me as especially Christian/Eurocentric when compared to the relative richness found in SOTW.

Out of nearly 150 names the only Muslim listed after the prophet Muhammad is Saddam Hussein (wt?). There are also only about five Chinese and Japanese total, all leaders. I believe there were only about three Africans and no Hindu other than Ghandhi (Sri Shah Jahan being the only Indian between I noticed). I would expect the list, especially for the second book, to be far more richer in geographic diversity. 

I went searching online for alternative lists of the greatest people ever. The two most intriguing ones I found are (these lists are from their books):

1) Michael Hart's “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential People in History” 
https://www.biographyonline.net/people/100-most-influential.html

2) Steven Skiena and Charles B. Ward's “Who’s Bigger? Where Historical Figures Really Rank”
https://ideas.time.com/2013/12/10/whos-biggest-the-100-most-significant-figures-in-history/

The latter's underlying data-driven methodology seems promising but is currently highly dependent on English sources, so it doesn't seem to help much with my main issue of the SOTW list, but the former has given me some gems (including many, many overlooked Western intellectuals) such as:

  • Ts’ai Lun (AD 50 – 121) Inventor of paper (arguably just as important as Gutenberg).
  • Louis Pasteur (1822 – 1895) French biologist. Developed a cure for rabies and other infectious diseases.
  • Euclid (c. 325 – 265 BC) – Greek mathematician
  • Shih Huang Ti (259 – 210 BC) – King of the state of Qin who conquered and united different regions of China in 221 BC.
  • Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743 – 1794) French chemist and biologist who had a leading impact on the chemical revolution.
  • Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867) – English scientist who contributed in fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry.
  • James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) Scottish physicist. Maxwell made a significant contribution to understanding electromagnetism
  • Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) Dutch chemist – founder of microbiology.
  • Louis Daguerre (1787–1851) French artist and photographer, who is credited with the invention of the camera.
  • Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650) French philosopher and mathematician. “I think, therefore I am.”
  • Umar ibn al-Khattab (584 CE –  644 CE) Powerful Muslim Caliphate and senior companion of Muhammad. An influential figure in Sunni Islam.
    It seems that Ali ibn Abu Talib would be equally important for Islamic civilization as the primary Shia figure and the patriarch of almost all Sunni-Sufi brotherhoods.
  • Edward Jenner (1749 – 1823) Developed the world’s first vaccine (the smallpox vaccine). Known as the father of immunology. … quite important considering the pandemic we are still going through. 
  • Mani (216 – ) Iranian founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion which for a time was a rival to Christianity. … especially considering how popular it was during the early centuries of Christianity and Islam and the influence it had as a rival during those several centuries.
  • Sui Wen Ti (541 –  604) Founder of China’s Sui Dynasty and reunifying China in 589
  • Mencius (385–303BC) Chinese philosopher one of the principal interpreters of Confucianism.
  • Zoroaster (c. 1200 BC)  Iranian prophet who founded the religion of Zoroastrianism.
  • Menes c. 3000 BC Egyptian pharaoh who united Upper and Lower Egypt to found the First Dynasty.

There were several others on the list that I'm sure I missed as well. All of these seem very reasonable (some even essentials) to include, especially over less important people such as Betsy Ross (sorry for the easy target). 

Are there any other lists that you have found useful? 

Ideally I would like a number of lists that will serve as pegs for my children understand the various traditions and histories of important civilizations and people, especially as the world continues to flatten. In particular, it would be great to have a more thorough list from the three other great civilizations that contain over a billion people each (i.e. Chinese, Indian and Muslim) that will likely shape our children's lives more than they have our lives.

Thanks,

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We have very much enjoyed the Outrageous Women of____________ series by Vicki Leon.  Each major time period is broken down into regional groupings, so, for example, the ancients list is this:

Rome:

  • Iaia of Cyzicus
  • Hortensia of Rome
  • Locusta of Gaul

Greece and Turkey:

  • Sappho of Lesbos
  • Hipparchia of Athens
  • Hedea, Tryphosa, and DIonysia of Tralles

Egypt and Norther Africa:

  • Hatshepsut of Thebes
  • Cleopatra Seven of Egypt and Cleopatra Selene of Mauretania
  • Mary, Prophetissa of Alexandria

The Middle East:

  • Deborah and Jael of Israel
  • Zenobia of Palmyra
  • Enheduana of Sumer
  • Semiramis of Assyria

The Far East:

  • Pan Chao of China
  • Trung Trac and Trung Nhi of Vietnam

The Middle Ages book follows a similar format, focusing on Europe, Africa, and Asia.  The women included made contributions to art, history, music, politics, science..

The thing is, though, is I have found it's not enough to focus on a great list of notable people if you're in the stage where you're using SOTW.  It's more necessary to focus on accessible notable people.  What kind of children's books are there about the subject?  What other materials are available?  I can give my kid ideas of people, but I want them to KNOW something about them.

For example, while discussing Gutenberg and reading about him, you can also watch the Hidden History of the Korean movable type printing press on Youtube.

You can read Longfellow's poem of Paul Revere, and follow it up with "The Remarkable Ride of Israel Bissell" and a book about Sybil Luddington.

You can get the Urban Intellectual Black History cards, which has a set for pre-1492 African achievements.

But for many people on a notable list, it's hard to find children's materials.  Elisabeth Smith Friedman?  Forget it.  I have found one fascinating biography and it's a pretty heavy read.  That story has to wait.

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5 hours ago, HomeAgain said:

We have very much enjoyed the Outrageous Women of____________ series by Vicki Leon.  Each major time period is broken down into regional groupings, so, for example, the ancients list is this:

The thing is, though, is I have found it's not enough to focus on a great list of notable people if you're in the stage where you're using SOTW.  It's more necessary to focus on accessible notable people.  What kind of children's books are there about the subject?  What other materials are available?  I can give my kid ideas of people, but I want them to KNOW something about them.



You can get the Urban Intellectual Black History cards, which has a set for pre-1492 African achievements.
 

Thanks so much for the wonderful advice. There was tons of beneficial points in it. I love the card set in particular! My kids would devour those. 

I think there is a far greater richness in English-based materials for younger kids being produced about just about any historical figure you can imagine, even if only in videos format. Even adult-level videos can be paraphrased and summarized if need be. I'm sure there will be something on Wikipedia even, so I don't worry about that. My kids don't mind listening to me paraphrasing such material. 

For the Islamic history, my wife can handle that as she's Jordanian and has tons of materials in Arabic for that, so there is no worry for me there. For western history there is no shortage of English material that I can access. I want to make sure I can balance out the rest of history as I go through SOTW with them, especially East-Asian history as I don't know much about that and I want to make sure I do those justice.

I have just begun SOTW for the first time, would the names mentioned throughout the book itself suffice as names to add to TWTM list? Right off the bat I can see Narmer/Menes is mentioned right at the biginning of the book but is not on the TWTM list. As the first name and the unifier of Egypt it seems like a good first name from SOTW to have my kids learn. Can I expect many more like this? 

Michael Hart's list also makes me wonder if TWTM's lists are shortchanging the great modern scientific thinkers. As knowledge is becoming more and more specialized, it seems to become rarer to find a renaissance man so do we do a disservice to their impact on modern life who were great in just one narrow field of science? Just thinking about the discovery of vaccines, I'm sure that must have had greater influence on societal and political stability over the past 200 years than we would have thought prior to experiencing covid. I'd imagine in the long run, that would mean he is more important to include then say even the great Mark Twain? 

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I don't use the WTM or Story of the World series.  I create my kids' courses and research my own reading lists based on whatever topic I want fo concentrate on.   My main pt in posting is that I thought I'd share this book that my 5th grader and I read this past school yr since Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek is on your list: All in a Drop

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On 6/24/2021 at 2:44 AM, HomeAgain said:

The thing is, though, is I have found it's not enough to focus on a great list of notable people if you're in the stage where you're using SOTW.  It's more necessary to focus on accessible notable people.  What kind of children's books are there about the subject?  What other materials are available?  I can give my kid ideas of people, but I want them to KNOW something about them.

This.

We began with SOTW five years ago and I have learned to go where the resources are for these younger years.  A great picture book biography, a traditional fable and a fun hands on project will stick with your kids much better than a memorised list of names.  One day my kids will hear about Plato and Aristotle, but at this time I am not aware of any books at their level, so this year they read about Socrates, Diogenes, Archimedes, Eratosthenes and Pythagoras instead, and rolled around in hours of Greek myths.  We learned about Tutankhamun because there are loads of accessible bios, illustrated spreads, newspaper articles and DVDs, and we didn't explore Ramses II who was a more significant pharaoh because there's not much available for elementary students.  Next time around, they will remember much of what they learned this year and come up to the starting blocks with enough enthusiasm and maturity to see them through some higher level stuff about Plato, Ramses and others.

SOTW is trying to provide you with a genuine *world* history, yet to fit it all into a school year and at an elementary level.  Some things, like the Spanish Inquisition, are not mentioned because they're so difficult to discuss with a young audience.  And the Western and American threads get more space because most users of SOTW are Americans (though I am not) and your culture (and mine) have been affected more by happenings in Europe than happenings in, say, Africa.  If you're willing to trust the process, you can follow SOTW for the four years and come out with kids who enjoy history, have a lot of memory pegs and a narrative foundation, and are ready for the broader and deeper work that you're proposing.  But please don't miss the amazing picture books available while you have kids in these younger years, because they are great and they are no less "educational" for their brevity. (Demi is an author you might like to check out who writes gorgeous books with an emphasis on Eastern people and legends.)

Welcome to the WTM boards, and best of luck on your homeschooling journey!

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On 6/24/2021 at 2:13 PM, 8filltheheart said:

I don't use the WTM or Story of the World series.  I create my kids' courses and research my own reading lists based on whatever topic I want fo concentrate on.   My main pt in posting is that I thought I'd share this book that my 5th grader and I read this past school yr since Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek is on your list: All in a Drop

Thanks for the wonderful book suggestion.

Do you use any spines for history?

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I'm not as familiar with the ones from TWTM, but here are some you could add if they aren't already on the list.  A lot of these I learned about through watching Extra Credits History videos on youtube (just to give credit where it's due).   These are sort of in order.

ANCIENT HISTORY

Egypt/Africa
Imphotep (pyramid builder...he may have been in SOTW but can't remember)
Taharqa (sometimes spelled Taharka) - Nubian king who took over Egypt, first ruler of the Taharqa dynasty

Greece (at time of Rome)
Hypatia (mathematician...one of the only women among the Greek philosphers)

China
Warring States Period
Sun Tzu - Wrote Art of War, still used for military tactics today
Han Dynasty - the whole dynasty is totally skipped in SOTW but it's amazing. 
Zhang Heng Chinese mathematician and astronomer who made, among other things, the first seizmometer.
Emperor Wu sent and his emissary Zhang Qian - Together they basically started the silk road



MIDDLE AGES/AGE OF EXPLORATION

Middle East/Africa (most of these are Muslim)
Al-Khwarizmi - Mathematician.  The reason we call our numbers "Arabic Numbers" (though he got them from India)
Samuel HaNagid - Jewish scholar/administrator in Cordoba who helped shape a Muslim nation, even though he was Jewish.
Saladin (around time of crusades) - Ruler/Military Leader, respected even by his enemies
Mansa Musa - King of Mali, Africa.   Richest man in the world ever possibly (some debate about this, but still)
Suleiman the Magnificent - Islamic Ruler
Ibn Battuta - Scholar and world traveler

Europe/New World
Bartolome de las Casas (yes, he's European and Christian, but as my favorite character in history I have to include him here.   He was a priest who came to believe that the enslavement of the indigenous people of the new world was wrong, and spent his whole life fighting to end their oppression).



RENAISSANCE TO MODERN (Approximately)

I don't have as much for here, as we haven't gotten there, but...

Queen Nzinga - 17th-century queen regnant of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms of the Mbundu people in Angola
Hiawatha - Native American who united  the Iroquois.   The famous poem about him is pretty much not accurate at all, but his real story is amazing.
Admiral Yi - Korean naval admiral, who invented a new type of ship (if I remember right) and pretty much is responsible for Japan not taking over Korea in the middle ages.
Catherine the Great (yeah, she's probably included...but just in case)
Simon Bolivar - Hero of hispanic independence movement
Shaka Zulu - African leader
Kamehameha the Great - Hawaiian king

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