Monday, June 8, 2009

A Classical Education, part 5

A few thoughts on history...

History is another area where I find myself diverging from TWTM. I like the 4 year history cycles. We basically follow a chronological format for three of the four years. (I personally find it easier to teach ancient history from more of a geographical approach.) I have never, however, used the suggested resources from TWTM for three basic reasons.

1. Because TWTM tries to include both western and non-western history in its scope, I have always felt that it barely skims the surface of history. I prefer to use more of a "better deep than wide approach" to history so that my kids can stay with a given civilization long enough to really soak in the story. Practically, this has meant focusing primarily on western culture for the first two years of history before studying American history in depth for years 3 and 4 for the grammar stage.

2. In order to appeal to a wider cross section of homeschoolers, TWTM recommendations are primarily secular. I personally find it easier to put together my own history program rather than try to add in Biblical history and church history into TWTM suggestions.

3. To me TWTM history is set up to be topically driven. Read a few pages in an encyclopedia and then find more books on a topic, or read a section in The Story of the World (as an intro to a given topic) and then read through some library resources for more information. I feel like a ping pong ball bouncing to and fro. I may be bouncing in a given direction, but the topics lack a sense of flow to me. Here again, I find that by focusing more on depth I find the flow that I am seeking. Instead of a string of potentially unrealted topics, I can follow one group of people through a given period of time whether it be the ancient Greeks, Europeans in the Middle Ages, or Americans from the colonists through the founding fathers to modern day using living books.

Our output has also not followed the recommendations in TWTM for the grammar years. I've blogged before about how our narrations tend to be more CMish. I also choose not to use my children's narrations as a source of copywork or dictation. Honestly, I prefer that they copy and dictate from good literature. While I often find their narrations to be quirky and entertaining, I don't believe that they will improve their writing skills by spending time rewriting their own narrations. Turning their oral narrations into booklets for lapbooks has been an excellent way for us to keep a record of what we have learned and have some fun crafty time cutting and pasting without ending up with large art projects that we have no place to put.

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