Almost all of my time is spent educating my six children, and up to now I have carefully avoided speaking about it on this blog.
There are many reasons why I have been silent on this topic. One reason is that I want to protect my kids’ privacy and my own. Our progress is fast in some places, and slow in others. I always have a nagging suspicion that every other home-educating mom out there is doing it faster, better, more beautifully and with better map over-lays and arts and crafts than I am. I mean, I have seen some of those other blogs out there…..families who spend all day long making topographical maps while the oldest daughter plays the harp in the background and then they all adjourn to enjoy fresh home-made bread lathered with butter from their own cow and honey from their own bees. Ha!
Well, we’re not doing any of that. But here is what we are doing, and I’m putting it up here to encourage the ladies out there who are sure that they are the only ones without the harps, bees and cows. You are really not alone! So, as baseline home-educators, here’s what we’re doing this week.
We use (and love) Tapestry of Grace for history, literature, and writing. I am a huge fan of this curricula. I cannot imagine what might ever cause me to switch to another. Tapestry is a four year program of study, geared for all levels of learning, from the earliest reader to a high-school senior. Following the classical model, Tapestry covers history, from creation to current history, chronologically over its four year cycle, repeating itself three times during a child’s twelve years in school. This program includes more activities and reading ideas, projects and discussion plans than anyone could use at once, it is just rich with options and great ideas.
Last year, we studied Year Two, which covers the Renaissance and Reformation through the explorers and early colonization of America. And this year, in a brazen move, we have skipped Year Three entirely, having given it such a thorough treatment four years ago that nobody wanted to do it again for a while (woops!). So, we’re doing modern history now with Tapestry Year Four, and really loving the early 20th century.
We had an extra bonus this year, which was that we got to go to England and Norway for three weeks in October. While we were there, we made a point of checking out as many WWI and WWII museums and exhibits as we could find. We did also slip out and visit Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and the Tower of London, a few castles and cathedrals and art galleries, but we learned more than we ever expected about WWII in England and about the causes of WWI and II which were so much about the drawing of artificial boundaries all over Europe.
Before we left for that trip, we spent four weeks doing an ultra-fast summary of all that took place from 1700 to 1880, just to give us a foundation for this years work……then we left town and forgot 90% of it. (When I fill out the summary sheets for the kids work this year, I’m going to say that they were “exposed to the history and literature of the 18th and 19th centuries.”)
This week, we have been looking at the sweeping changes in technology, industry and science around the time of the turn of the century. My kids are reading about Teddy Roosevelt, Taft’s progressivism, the Wright brothers, Henry Ford, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Amy Carmichael, The Panama Canal, the scramble for Africa, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, and the authorization of an income tax with the Sixteenth Amendment.
The world was busy and booming, and in Europe and North America, everyone was full of hope and optimism. They had no idea what was ahead in this century of great and terrible wars.
I love learning all of this history again, some of it for the first time. It is an incredible gift to be able to talk about this with my kids, and to learn with them how all of these events and ideas and advances interacted with one another to set the stage for the events to come.
In a conversation today about air transportation, the invention of the automobile and the development of the assembly line, I was amazed to hear one of my kids say that the enormously high numbers of WWI casualties are in part attributable to these three advances in technology….because more and better methods of transportation, mechanization and production allowed for greater numbers of troops to be moved to places where more efficient weapons would be used upon them. Amazing, we take pride in our achievements, only to see them bring on our downfall.
And still, God is sovereign, and nothing is random.