Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Random Thoughts on History & Homeschooling

Why yes, that picture of me to the right IS with an actual Sidonian sarcophagus, obviously influenced by Egyptians, with heiroglyphics (that you, sadly, can't see in this picture) all over the body. Yes indeedy. And yes, I (or Silas) could have reached out and touched it, since there was no separating glass or little beeping lasers to tip anyone off if I had. But , you'll be pleased to learn that I acted like an adult and restrained myself, opting instead to just marvel and take it in.

One of the thing I have learned as a homeschool mom is that the way I learned history in school was absolutely THE most boring way one could learn about our world.

  • Disjointed- with no "spine" for understanding where the stuff fit in... a large amount of Texas history, a little US history, even less Western history and no complete "world" history ... and you end up with a jumbled and incomplete view of how things fit together, and no real sense of the progression of world events.
  • Dull- Year after year was spent reading paragraphs jam-packed with dates and so politically corrected that it effectively eliminates the real story. It was often presented in a way that treated every side of a battle as equally admirable (unless you're studying the nazis). Studying history this way, even the amazing heroes and heroines of the past become just names and dates to memorize. It all blurs together and dulls the mind.
  • Taught by people who had seemingly no real interest in it. Is it OK to say this out loud? Nearly every one of my history teachers in school was a coach who took more interest in baseball, track, football, tennis, you name it, than they did in history. Dull, dull, dull. If you can imagine a full year of monotone memorization, that pretty much sums up my history courses-- particularly the high school ones. (I actually DID enjoy Texas history in Jr. High, but come on-- what Texan doesn't love Texas, yaknowwhatImean?) :)
I'm not trying to set it up so that homeschooling then becomes "The Answer" for this problem, but I'm telling you, I love the way that Sonlight brings history alive. For example, because of a book we read last year, our oldest son has begun to have a context for understanding WWII at an age-appropriate level, grasping how it affected the average people in France on an emotional level as well as informational level.

The curriculum that we've begun using as our "spine" for history this year, The Mystery of History, brings world history and biblical history together into a comprehensive, understandable whole. It has been refreshing to approach history in a logical way, rather than starting in the middle somewhere. It may not be everyone's preference, but we enjoy it... and we have such a greater awareness of the world that biblical characters lived in, by knowing the other things going on in the world at roughly the same time.

I love the way that homeschooling affords us the time and freedom to explore interesting things in real life that enrich our understanding of the world and its history. Here are some pictures of recent explorations we've done here... (sorry in advance-- some of the pictures are blurry from those times when we couldn't use flash).

Our oldest son and I enjoying the centuries-old tile work in the harem portion of the oldest surviving palace in the world.

Doug & the kids in front of an 8th-century B.C. Hittite lion.
(It amazes me that this is only about 150-200 years after King David.)

The boys inspecting an Egyptian-type sarcophagus found in Lebanon.

Studying a Greek-style sarcophagus up close. (The exhibit we saw was from a "city of the dead" that was discovered by a Turkish farmer as he worked his land in the early 20th century. It included an astounding number of Greco-Roman and Egyptian style sarcophagus' and burial chambers.)

They also had the opportunity to climb up into a kid-sized example of the Trojan horse.

Just hanging out in Ephesus about month ago.

The boys had an incredible time exploring the ampitheater at Ephesus.
(Yes, I was calling out, "be careful! Don't get to close to the edge of the steps!")
Just over 2,000 years old, Ephesus is sometimes named as the best preserved city of that time period.

They had a blast pretending to be Roman soldiers and strong gladiators as they stood under the ruins of the archway that led into the Ephesian gymnasium.

Because we live overseas, we obviously have different opportunities than you do if you are in the States, but there are things there that we would also love to see. (For example, the King Tut exhibit.) Mainly, I just wanted to share some of the things we've gotten to do and express my gratitude for the freedom and opportunities we have as we study history in our homeschool.

(Please note that you can click on any of the above pictures to see a much larger picture.)


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