Thursday, November 12, 2009


Yeah, I probably lost some readers right there. Many of us feel about like the following writer did about history. Bored out of our minds by some bored high school teacher, we swore up and down that we'd graduate high school and never take another history class AGAIN. Even I was that way; that may really shock some people, including my husband. I loved history as a young child, even as a middle school student. (History lesson; in those days, we called it Junior High.) Then I got into high school and met American History As Taught By The State. It was dry and dead and I really wanted nothing more to do with it. I was pretty upset to learn that I'd need a few history credits to get out of college.

And there I met three really interested and interesting history instructors. No, I don't remember their names. This was just before the age when liberalism became dogmatic and opposing viewpoints were encouraged in the colleges. If you take a history class now, you might be told that no arguing of viewpoints will be allowed in class, in the guise of not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings. But some of us know better. But I digress.

I studied early American history under a quiet, unassuming instructor who taught semi-Socratically. He would ask questions, and we would answer. If the answer wasn't complete, he would "winkle" it out of us, with repeated questions. Sometimes I thought he would run screaming from the room; certainly we tested his patience. But he was quiet and unassuming and we learned our stuff.

American History 2 (Civil War to the Present) was taught by a brilliant instructor who sometimes told us too much about his personal life. He was a little less open to classroom discussion, but we learned our stuff there, too.

At university, I took a class on British history from the 1600s to the 1800s. It was taught by Dr. Marxist, which was not really his name, but certainly his political leaning. He was that kind of brilliant that borders on insane, know what I mean? He wanted us to journal all of our thoughts on the material taught. Something about having to produce creative written discussion about people like Horace Walpole and Benjamin Disraeli shut down my writing abilities for most of that semester. But we learned. We really did.

When I started homeschooling, I started with the two things I knew best; earth science and American history. We played with rocks and differing colors of clay, went to reenactments and did hands-on mapping exercises, a la Lewis and Clark. We had fun learning and my boys are still major history buffs. It just takes reminding them that history is just a story, albeit a very, very long one. And that people just like us faced the same challenges we do every day, although perhaps with less "stuff" than we do.

Pioneer Woman has a separate webpage for Homeschooling on her site. This week her guest contributor discussed some of these very ideas about history, and gave suggestions for interesting material from which to learn it. If you have a homeschooling kids, or any kid, or are an adult who might want to reawaken any interest in history you might once have had, it might help to look over this site. I've looked at some of these, and used others to teach my kids, and I'd like to own them ALL. But John won't build more bookshelves. I suppose I could get rid of some books...Perish the thought!

And now I will close. I'm being called to make gingersnaps. Who am I to refuse?

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