Sunday, February 15, 2015

Planning History

Once Allie came to me regarding changes to her freshman reading and I made that decision, I realized I also had to make some changes to our history plans for the year.  I had planned a Segregation/Race Relations Unit Study based around reading several historical novels including To Kill A Mockingbird, A Raisin in the Sun and The Strength to Love.  Now that we were not reading those together, I could show the girls some of the movies I had chosen, but there would not be enough to count it as history.

I have a dream of doing a compare/contrast history course with the girls using Larry Schweikart and Michael Allien's A Patriot's History of the United States with Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.  I like the idea of presenting both points of view to the girls. I want my girls to understand the basis for conservativism and liberalism. will be a few years before my girls will be really ready to tackle a study of this kind.  They are not mature enough and quite frankly, there are some things that I want to keep them innocent to for just a little longer.

New Jersey requires one year of World History for high school graduation.  I wasn't paying that too much attention, as it didn't seem to be a requirement for college entrance and my girls are strongly considering two years at community college before heading off to a four year school.  But, now that I was back to Square One, I thought I would review Susan Wise Bauer's History of the Ancient World.  It seemed a likely course to choose as we had enjoyed Story of the World.  Fortunately, our library system had both History of the Ancient World and History of the Medieval World.  I put them both on hold and spent some time perusing them.  While they are great books, I just didn't want to spend the next three years going over ancient, medieval and renaissance history.  I realized that I want to spend time on Modern World History from the late 1800s to the present day and learn more about RFK, JFK, FDR and Ronald Reagan; I want the girls to have a better understanding of WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, and the Iraq War;  I want them to understand the Cold War, the Suez Canal Crisis and the Iran Contra debacle; I want them to understand the forms of government that emerged in the last 150 years and the shift from the industrial era to the information age; I want them to have a clear idea of who Nixon was and what Watergate was; who Mussolini, Hitler, Khadafy and Hussein were.  I really don't feel like we have covered modern history in enough depth and I want to really take the time to dig in and make sure the girls understand the events of the 20th and 21st centuries.
I don't feel like my girls have enough understanding of history in the last 100 years and I feel it's important that we make time to cover this period in depth.

I talked to the girls and they recalled a lot of what I considered important as far as Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.  They remembered the Nomads and the Fertile Crescent; they were able to tell me about mummies and pyramids, Greek and Roman mythology; they talked at length about the Minotaur; they remembered Romulus and Remus; Julius Caesar and bits and pieces of the story.  They didn't remember a lot about  monotheism and polytheism, but they did recall that in Ancient Times a lot of wars were fought over religion and in Medieval Times a lot of wars were fought over land.  I found that there were things that stood out to them in Medieval and Renaissance Times as well and while there were some things they couldn't recall that I felt were important, they could recall quite a bit!  I was impressed!
These are good books, a solid program.  I am just starting to become
aware of the fact that my time with Allie at home is limited, and I would
rather spend time on modern world history and American history than rehashing
time periods she remembers fairly well.

After a lot of thought, I have decided to finish out the year by having the girls do a project on each: Ancient History, Medieval History and The Renaissance.  Hopefully this will work and fill in the gaps of things they don't recall.  I couldn't find anything I liked for Ancient History, so I created my own project, with topics for the girls to write about and find pictures to go along with, maps for the girls to draw and the challenge to create a game from it all.

I found these possibilities for Medieval History:

I am still looking at reviews of these
 to make sure they wouldn't be too
basic for middle and high school.

I am looking at both A Truthquest and a In The Hands of a Child lap book for the Renaissance, both of which claim to be for middle and high school.  I am still looking at reviews for these and waiting to see how Ancient History goes before I commit to a project based learning of history for the rest of the year.

Next year we will start Modern History (the options for homeschool curriculum in modern history seem to be either extremely conservative or use a lot of outside literature and I know Allie would prefer to have choices as far as reading and not keep to a strict schedule of reading period literature--although I hope to include some, so I am actually looking at Pearson's offerings for Modern History, they have two very interesting textbooks).  I think studying the Modern Era will be good preparation for possibly doing the Historical Contrast Study in Allie's junior and/or senior year of high school.