Yesterday was a day in which we were supposed to reflect our use of water and how it impacts us. So many of us do not even consider the water issue yet there are so many ways in which it affected the growth and development of our societies. Water – or the lack of it – has been a determining factor for farming, transportation, industrialization and settlement. Like many other resources, it was, until recently seen as inexhaustible by most industrialized countries. Recently, however, things have changed.
In the History curriculum water is not discussed explicitly but it appears in a number of places when examining historical trends. The waterways of the America facilitated trade and industrialization and led to westward expansion. Conversely, the limits on water in places like Mexico made travel difficult and expensive; it also made industrialization more challenging.
Exploration often took place along waterways and foreign explorers found their way through such venues to reach new areas and cultures.
Perceptions of water also vary from place to place; what is a creek in Montreal is a river in Arizona. What does not change is that it is seen as an inexorable for to be reckoned with – and rarely controlled.
In the HL syllabi there are usually sections on the development of transportation; this is one rare place where a curriculum can focus on water. Looking at wars, the sea is seen as a front – a place of action. But water is not considered in the curriculum – it is usually assumed. The question is why ….