"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

On teaching history

When my first was in early elementary school, people gave him strange looks because he knew things that weren't in the ordinary elementary history curriculum. First grade, for the classical model schooling experience, means ancient history for little kids. So my little guy knew about the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians and Canaanites(get it? The ABC's of Ancient Mesopotamia) and Egyptians and Greeks and Romans. That knowledge became less impressive as he grew older. Never having been overly enthusiastic about these things (though tolerably so), his liking for history slowly faded as he grew older and a single encounter with a difficult teacher was pretty much the end of it. Bummer.

Now, tenth grade, he's back on the ancients. Assessment: well its better than last year, modern history with the difficult teacher.

Second Assessment: Homer. Meh.

My eldest at the Palace of Knossos

I am teaching, at three vastly different levels, ancient history to all three boys this year.  The middle child, off of whom history seems to bounce as if he were made of some sort of intellectual teflon (the fate being shared by handwriting lessons as well) needed the review.  He had pretty much forgotten everything from the previous cycle. 

But this year he gets to take his ancient history online so his assessment is: well, I get to use a computer.  That's cool. 

Secondary Assessment: when do we get to where gunpowder and rockets were invented?

Its all brand new for the third child.  And he's the embodiment of why classical homeschoolers start teaching this stuff in first grade.  The idea is that they learn some, then cycle back a few years later and dig deeper, and then when they get to the really hard stuff the concepts will all be old hat, so they can dig more deeply still.  Read a kiddie version of Canterbury tales in second grade, a more advanced version in sixth, and by high school the complex language won't matter amid the familiar story.

But really, I think it may also be about harnessing the enthusiasm of a seven year old. 

We started studying ancient Crete today.  Seven year old thinks the very concept of bull jumping is hysterical.  What if the bull killed you?  What if you landed on your butt?  They practiced by jumping over smaller animals? Goats? that's silly.  How about chickens? I can do a sommersault and a cartwheel.  Wanna see? Right NOW????

We played, coincidentally, the Lego Minotaur game tonight for bedtime games.  What's a Minotaur?  Did the Minotaur really eat people?  Could the Minotaur knock down walls?  Roar!

There was a lot of roaring.

His assessment of ancient history: Minotaur! Roar!

Secondary assessment: Assyrians were tough! Cool!  Roar!

Maybe history would be more interesting if it were more about "Roar" and less about "Homer. Meh."  All three kids encounter the Greek Minotaur legend this year.  Don't be alarmed if you hear my kids roar.

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