My classical education

Most of you know that I homeschooled Michael for Grades 4 and 5. It was a wonderful experience that I recommend to anyone with the desire, opportunity, and energy. Not only great for the student, but I learned a lot about myself that I didn’t know before.

One of those things is that I actually like history. I have lived for a long time believing that I hated history. I didn’t think I had a good memory, and it all seemed so dry. Well, my memory isn’t good for lists of facts or disconnected stuff, but I have found that I actually like learning history, and that has opened up the vast realms of historical literature that I have in the past ignored.

I followed a classical approach to homeschooling as outlined in The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. I can’t go in to the details about the program in this post, but essentially you do a four year cycle, roughly covering Ancients (5000 BC-AD400), Medieval-Early Renaissance (400-1600), Late Renaissance-Early Modern (1600-1850), and Modern (16850-present). You do it three times, which takes you through 12 school years (grades). Each time, you look deeper into the period and read more complex literature. We did the first two years, using age-appropriate history resources and coordinating novels/literature.

I have decided to embark on some self-study, roughly following the high school recommendations. I am going to start with the Ancients and plan to read:

There are more possibilities in the book but I’ve picked out readings which either I already own or were easily available to me. I will be using Spielvogel’s Western Civilization as my history text book and am still awaiting it’s arrival from Alibris as I managed to score a good used copy to keep my costs down.

I’m almost finished the Pentateuch and used the reading guides in my New American Bible Study Edition to give me some background, as well as A Catholic Guide to the Bible by Fr. Oscar Lukefahr that I got from Paperback Swap a year ago and hadn’t cracked.

I’ve also been listening to a podcast from UC Berkeley that I found on iTunes. The course is called History 4A: The Ancient Mediterranean World and it’s free. The first three lectures are missing (I think she decided to record the lectures at that point) and unfortunately, I missed the discussion of the Sumerians which will be useful for the Epic of Gilgamesh. The drawback of these podcasts is that I can’t see any of her slides. And she’s slightly disorganized, which makes listening a bit of a chore when I can’t see what’s happening in the classroom. As I said, it’s free and interesting, and kills time in the car.

There are a ton of online (and offline) study guides for the works I plan to read, but I’m going to try to go without, at least somewhat, and let the works sink in to my brain on their own.

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