At the Ross School in East Hampton, students learn all of the typical subjects–math, science, history, literature–through an experimental curriculum designed to teach how human consciousness has evolved throughout history. It’s the type of school that teaches media studies in kindergarten and ancient Chinese wellness to pre-pubescent middle schoolers. It’s also the kind of place that demonstrates its methodology with an wildly intricate infographic that visualizes all of human history.
Yes, this was designed as a marketing tool for a private school. But also: it’s impressively comprehensive and really fun to play around with.
The animated spiral in the center of the data viz is a tool to break down the school’s Spiral Curriculum, which starts in kindergarten, at the beginning of time, and continues through to modern history (taught senior year). Multicolored bubbles along the spiral show major cultural advancements in various fields during a period of time; click around and spiral will whirl you into a different epoch. Widen the lens, and it demonstrates the belief that self-awareness evolved out of a complex cultural matrix.
The most useful and intuitive way to use the tool–for those not interested in the actual courses in the curriculum–is through the timeline on the side. Click on a year (1416 CE) and a general overview will tell you what was going on at the time (Emergence of the Modern Perspective). Click on the different colored blocks beside the year and it will show what was happening in science (Newtonian Mechanics), history (Voyages and Exploration), visual arts (Renaissance Art), and so forth. Brush up on your cultural history (Romanticism was when?), then move back to the spiral to see how everything and everyone throughout history is connected.
Check out the full visualization here.