Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Memoria Press and Instincts

Do you get this catalog?

Memoria Press's catalog, The Classical Teacher, always has great articles, making me feel that this is yet another magazine subscription that I should cancel in my ongoing effort to trim the budget. Then I remember that it's a free catalog, not a pricey magazine, and I settle in with a cup of coffee and some compelling reading.

The latest issue has a wonderful article by Cheryl Lowe entitled, "History is Not Chronological."

I nodded my head in agreement throughout, especially at the portions in which she recommends covering American History and Bible stories for first graders (as opposed to covering history in chronological order from the earliest grades on.) She discussed exactly what I was already planning to do with Ramona next year, which is to use whole, living books (Little House is calling our names) and Bible stories, and do plenty of fun activities such as making butter, and corncob dolls and doing other related crafts.

I've always thought that we need not study all the periods of history in chronological order, but rather that, for the early years in particular, we should study what's relevant to us, what makes sense when you're six, and what will stick. That's the way I started when Anne-with-an-e was in first grade -- it was the year of All Things Little House, Many Things American Girl, and The Beginning of the Timeline. And, for our history studies, this auspicious beginning has served us well. We seem to have raised kids who love history, as evidenced today in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. As we toured the tremendous museum here, the girls snapped pictures and moved from one fascinating exhibit to another. They stood in stark contrast to the surly boy who, when his father pointed out an amazing artifact with the exclamation, "Imagine! They've preserved that!" responded with, "So?"

I felt so bad for that poor dad.

Now, Ramona, on the other hand, was pretty bored at the Gettysburg Museum. She's just not old enough yet. And that's why, in the fall, we'll be diving into All Things Little House.

It just makes sense. Thanks, Memoria, for the affirmation. I often feel that my individual, anecdotal "evidence" of how well something works just isn't enough. It's so nice, sometimes, to see in print the respected opinions of others that demonstrate that my instincts and anecdotal evidence are more universal than I think they are.


patience said...

We had such a great Little House year. For months all the questions I got about practically anything were, "was it invented before or after Laura?"

Kimberlee said...

Great post and so very true!!! Only here my Mary Rose is completely smitten with all things Martha, whom she loves even more than Laura. Have fun in Gettysburg!

Theresa said...

Karen, I think you are absolutely right. Environmental educators have long said that in teaching about nature we move from the familiar (our own back yards) outward (our local ecosystems, those of our country, and then those most foreign). It makes no sense to expect a first grader to care about the faraway tropical rain forests when she doesn't know her own back yard. She has no framework for understanding.
Why shouldn't the study of history follow the same structure? First, learn about familiar things,"American" things, and then move outward from there to things more distance in both time and place. It just makes more sense to me.

Margaret in Minnesota said...

That article clicked with me, as well. I also really enjoyed Martin Cothran's piece on music from that same issue.

See you soon!

Christine said...

I liked Cheryl Lowe's article, too. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I just reread Laura Berquist's DYOC and she mentions that she doesn't recommend formally studying history and science in the early grades; rather, she talks about reading books (as you do) and field trips to the zoo, etc. I think that yours and Theresa's comments hit the nail on the head.

Karen E. said...

Patience, isn't Laura a great "marker"? And, yes, Kimberlee, we're all *still* smitten with Martha. :-) Theresa, the article supports the "familiar outward" concept, and Margaret, the article on music will be next post. :-) Christine, I do love Laura Bergquist's DYOCC -- it was one of the first books I read that convinced that "I can do this." I particularly loved how the early grades seemed so "do-able" and tailored to the stage of learning the child is in, which, of course, is much of what a classical approach is all about.

Thanks, everyone, for great comments.

And, now that I've rested up from touring battlefields this morning, we'll be heading back out! :-)

Beck said...

You know what I would like? I would like for my children's school to cover history in ANY WAY AT ALL. So far, my daughter is nine years old and only knows that people have ever lived differently than this because of US.