Thursday, October 27, 2011


Homeschooling mom seeking honest, orderly, & science based History curriculum that does not make her want to burn books.

I am at home reading through the past three years of homeschooling looking for loose ends.  Little things here or there like, yes, we covered the solar system, even attended Star Class at the museum, but do we know what we need to know?  How about temperature? did we cover temperature? ....loose ends like oh say all of TIME (not the math time we had that down pat 2 years ago I mean the recorded history TIME). Yes, Beach the History hater is winning.

We have some stuff under our belt; Ancient Egypt, Greece, & the Minoans, no problem, but Early US history started strong and died an ugly slow death at the feet of West Ward Ho.  If it was up to Beach the West would never be won.  Part of the trouble is the way history is usually taught is in a spiral.  It is big and vague and sweeping then it circles back adding details, events, social causes, context, etc.  Beach does not learn like that no wonder she hates History.

I invited Colby into the conversation I was having with myself.  "What do I do about History?"  I show him the Core 1-3 grades History materials, our orphaned History Notebook, and my concerns about the spiral method of teaching.  He of course explained to me why history is taught this way, yes I know it builds with the child's development & understanding. But like Beach I find it disjointed when information comes in like grocery shopping gone horribly wrong.  Oh shit I forgot milk, wait we need cereal, & we should get fruit, but what about yogurt too? oh we also eat oatmeal, and that milk did we mention to check the date on it or to buy hormone free, what kind of yogurt do we want? what about the cereal is that the kind we want? we should now learn to unit price you all remember the prices for each of these items in the cart right?  Don't mess me give the story from start to finish...And that was when it hit me I am going about this all wrong. 

Literally we are going the wrong direction.  I should teach her History from today backward decade by decade like peeling an onion, like a murder mystery: how did we get here?  She can ask the questions letting every answer, every back story leading us further back in time.  In case you think I've lost my mind a simple question like this one from yesterday while listening to NPR, "Mom, why would it matter what color our President's skin is?" opens doors to the past. Those magic questions have always been fun to take on but now they will get their own Time Slot and carefully constructed timeline in the History Note Book (thank you Classical Education).

I'm banking if she feels connected to a tangible point in time she will stop feeling like we are playing darts in the dark. 
The nice part of going at it like this is Science & Literature should meet us half way.  I know I have mentioned it before Bill Bryson's A Really Short History of Nearly Everything is a fantastic book for the exploring science through the science of history or is it history through the history of science? Any which way coupled with 3rd grade science topics and 3rd grade Literature we cover Ancient Civilizations & Mythology, American Tall Tales, Evolution, simple machines & inventions, development of principles in chemistry & physics, astronomy, & historical biographies we should be able to obtain some assemblages of how & why, who & what.

Well, it is worth a try anyway.  I know exactly what we need to start, we need a newspaper. I'm pretty excited actually, I get to try & explain the 80's to an 8 year old.         

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