Certification and advertising on our website takes one complete school year, because you have to collect student work and respond to it. However, in order for a caring adult to understand how to teach with this method requires the teacher to watch about 2 hours of DVD and to read a 77 page booklet. Once you start the program with the students, you really do not need to spend outside time preparing for the class. Because the students are responsible for researching, the teacher acts more as a tutor and guide, rather than a lecturer.
Do you have literature suggestions or do we just have them read literature from the same time period that we are studying? Lo
Thank you, Lo, for your wonderful question. At present, the Classical Historian does not offer a recommended list of literature to read along with our history courses, and we are reluctant to do so.
There are some misconceptions regarding trying to combine a history program with literature. First, the study of history is analyzing historical evidence in order to understand the past and its meaning, and to impart on students analytical tools. Historians use primary and secondary resources and analytical tools to make sense of the past. Primary sources are those that are created by eyewitnesses of the event. The criteria the historian places on finding and reporting the truth are extremely high, or they should be! The historian's goal is to report what actually happened, and then to convey to the reader the meaning of these events using reasonable judgement.
The writer of literature, however, is not a historian, and his writings are not primary or even secondary sources. In fact, a literary work is not really a view into the actual setting of the story, but it is more a view into the life and time of the author. A good friend of mine explained to me that in literature, there is setting and context. The setting is when and where the story takes place. The context, however, is the time period of the writer and the writer's own personal history and perspective. For example, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is more about the writings of a gentleman (Twain) who reminisces about his ideal version of a lost America instead of a historical reporting of events in the United States before the Civil War.
The writer is not held to the same accountability as the historian. A writer's job is to convey theme through his craft, and to be interesting to enough people so that he sells books and makes a living. Theme is the message, or meaning of the story. Theme can involve a message of historical importance, but in the end, it is one person's view, that is not even expected to be historically accurate. Another way to look at it, is to recall movies that are based on historical figures, but they are not historically accurate. Movie directors attempt to convey an interesting story, in order to make the most money and to make a point, but, they do not need to be historically accurate.
To teach history from literature alone is a serious error, because we are giving to writers too much credit. Asking children to create a picture of the past based mainly on the context of the writer is full of dangers and open to manipulation. However, we understand it is pleasant to read historical fiction - we love to! :)
For those of you looking for a top literature program, we strongly recommend Center for Lit., Adam and Missy Andrew's company.
My son is 10 and will be 11 when we start the curriculum. If he would study Ancient, Medieval, and then American, would that be considered a complete World History after three years?
*No. The Modern World and Modern American we save for high school age
I like to study history with my 9 and 11 year old daughters at the same time. Is the Classical Historian curriculum too hard for a 9 year old? Marlene
Thank you Marlene!
The reading, thinking, DVD lessons would not be too much for a 9 year old girl, especially when she is in a class with her older 11 year old sister and led by her loving mom. When it comes time for the 9 year old to express her thoughts in words and writing, I would strongly suggest that the teacher be very patient and gentle.
I run a home school co-op, and some of our parents don't want their children to study history because it is neither tested on the ACT nor the SAT. What do you think? Kristi in MN
Thank you, Kristi! Most people learned history in school by memorizing, regurgitating, and forgetting, so they do not know what it means to learn and use the tools of the historian, to engage in a Socratic discussion in history, and to carry these skills over into their lives. Here are three ideas you could share with your parents...
1. Both tests (ACT and SAT) test the ability to think. History is a wonderful subject to teach thinking skills.
2. The SAT and AP tests have free response essays. The Classical Historian curriculum teaches how to best structure essays.
3. Are your parents pleased with how Americans choose leaders based on emotion and advertising? The Classical Historian teaches kids how to analyze the past using logic and evidence. Students naturally carry this over in how they make decisions regarding current events. Teaching kids how to think and make decisions and then how to express themselves in speech and writing is providing the best in leadership-training.
Do I understand that your curriculum is for grades 6-12 but can be used for grades 3 on up? We have a home school coop and are not completely happy with the history curriculum we are currently using. Our kids are on campus three times per week.
Thank you very much for considering our curriculum. I appreciate your question. Please bear with me as I provide a detailed answer!
To use our program with children under the age of 11 or 12, we would have to alter our Classical Historian curriculum. You could have it as a supplement to the history programs you are currently using. I would recommend that all students (and the teacher) complete the Teaching the Socratic Discussion DVD curriculum. This curriculum is very gentle, and young kids can benefit from it. After, as you continue learning the history content with your main textbooks, you could choose one or two Socratic discussion topics per quarter of school (one ever 8 or 10 weeks, for example) from our Take a Stand! book. The older students, ages 11 or 12 and older, should be required to do the extra reading, research, and writing. (I know that the texts I recommend provide enough evidence for the research. I assume the texts you use will have enough content for the research, but I am not 100% sure. For this reason, I would recommend you use the texts I recommend with the One Year curriculum. You could copy the readings necessary for the individual assignment for the class to keep the costs down). If some of the younger kids really want to participate, then they could also try, but the teacher's intention should be to view this as an educational experience for the younger kids, and not have extremely high standards as to their ability to form their own perspectives. We shouldn't worry too much if our nine year old boy isn't a critical thinker! Then, every quarter you would have one Socratic discussion class. The younger kids could listen to the older students, and if the younger ones want to participate, they could. At the end of each semester (as I have explained in our One Year Curriculum materials), I recommend that each student prepare a five to ten minute presentation on one of the assignments. The presentation should happen with all parents present, and it should be somewhat formal, with the young men wearing ties, etc. The younger children, though they shouldn't be compelled to present, will learn by watching the older kids. After the presentation, there should be a short reception with cookies and punch.
(The Long Story of Why I Wouldn't Use the Complete Classical Historian Program Only With Younger Studetns)
The Socratic Discussion DVD curriculum and the Take a Stand! books are intended for grades 6 - 12 because at the age of 12 or so kids seem to be ready to go beyond memorizing. Before this age, most kids are not naturally inclined to research longer assignments using different sources and form their own perspective. However, there may be an individual student who is ready who could do well in a group. For example, I once let a fourth grader join in a discussion group I led with 6th and 7th graders. She was able to form her own opinion and express herself in speech and somewhat in writing. However, I could not expect her to do the same amount of reading as the other children, and for much of the year, we lowered our expectations for her as compared to the other students with writing. This experience was a positive one for the student, but she was advanced in her thinking.
One thing I would be concerned with, is if the student is not ready and put in a position where he will fail not on account of effort, but on account of the development of the brain. My 11 year old daughter joined our home school class this year, and it has been working out excellently for her, but I would not expect my 9 year old son to complete the same program.
Yes. Classical Historian materials are not religious materials, and our products do not promote one religion over another. Our materials are approved for use in public schools, including public charter schools.
However, we agree that the United States of America is a cultural and historical descendant of the forefathers of western civilization: the Judeo-Chrisitian and Greco-Roman cultures. And, the Classical Historian also holds that the best of these societies contribute to what is ideal in human affairs: natural law, the rule of law, value of all individual life regardless of influence, power, or age, the sanctity of life, the idea that the republican form of government is better than tyranny, and Constitutional liberty as described in the U.S. Constitution.
The Problem With Prehistory
The study of prehistory poses many problems for the historian. Prehistory is the study of humans in the past before writing. By definition, any knowledge we have of humans, before writing, is speculative. Historians, trained mainly how to interpret written records, try to piece together with various scientists, what happened. Man’s certainty of prehistoric events will always remain hazy, because of this lack of an eyewitness written account. The historian’s ability to determine what happened in prehistory is limited.
The Scientific Problems of Knowing The Origin of Life and the Origin of the World
One issue that will forever cause wondrous imagination and thanksgiving, and also confusion and frustration, is the question of origin of life. The written word was not available at the beginning of life, so we cannot look to historians for our answer. Scientists, such as paleontologists, geneticists, biologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and so on, have tried to discover the origin of life, using scientific methods. However, these scientists all face a similar dilemma, in determining the origin of life.
According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of science is "knowledge attained through study or practice," or "knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world." The scientific method uses observation and experimentation to gain knowledge.
To know something for certain in science requires humans to experiment, observe, document their observations, and to have others do the same. When scientists conduct experiments, trying to discover the origin of life, they need to “take a leap of faith” and base their experiments and findings on what they believe to have been the circumstances at the time of the origin of life, based on the latest scientific findings. Based on the definition of science, scientists cannot know exactly what the origin of life was. This issue lies outside of science. The scientist’s ability to determine what happened in prehistory is limited.
Robert Badillo, professor of metaphysics at St. John’s University, writes, “The issue of biogenesis or the origin of life is a complex question that has not been resolved from a purely materialist perspective. There is no scientific demonstration for concluding that life comes from or derives from non-life. This is to say that there is no evidence for saying that the pre-biotic world is exclusively responsible for the generation of the biotic one. Traditionally, for the genesis of life, one needs, in addition to matter, a vital principle, also termed the soul, an immaterial principle that organizes matter into life forms. The issue of the origin of life is still an open question.”
When scientists cannot know exactly what happened, they base their ideas of nature on what appears, scientifically, to be the most plausible theory. Then, when many scientists agree with this idea, it is often falsely reported as fact. For example, very often, the theories of evolution are reported as fact, when they are in reality theories.
There is a tendency for readers to assume that scientists, when they agree, have established a fact. And, there are scientists who want you to believe, that if many scientists agree on something, it is factual. For example, if you see the sentence begin with the following, “Most scientists think….”, this does not mean that what follows is fact. It means only that at this time, most scientists think something. Consensus among most scientists does not mean that a fact has been established. It means that, at this moment of time, most scientists think this. It does not mean that it is true.
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world. As its name suggests, it belongs, at least partially, outside of the physical world. Whereas the scientific world today bases its knowledge almost solely on what is measurable, or quantifiable, metaphysicians base their ideas on things that are not only experimental, such as experience, thoughts, logic, emotions and ideas. The metaphysician attempts to clarify the fundamental notions by which people understand the world.
The study of prehistory can only be understood better with the aid of metaphysics. The study of the origin of the world, of the origin of life, is a metaphysical question. It lies outside the realm of the purely physical, since it touches on themes that cannot be fully expressed by the physical sciences. The study of Science and history are limited and will not ever be able to explain the origin of life and of the world.
In the ancient times, metaphysics was seen as “the Queen of Sciences,” as the Greek philosopher Aristotle called it. When Greek scientists made a discovery of something, they were more interested in how the discovery affected the understanding of who man was and what life meant, than in the discovery itself. These are questions that are not easily answered.
With the Scientific Revolution, and later the Enlightenment, European philosophers began to over rely on science and reason to answer all of man’s problems. The study of metaphysics waned. However, science and reason has its limitations, as we see when trying to understand prehistory.
Evolution and Belief in God
Theories about the origin of life and of the world are metaphysical questions. They lie beyond the realm of the study of history and of empirical sciences such as paleontology, genetics, biology, anthropology, archaeology, and so on. There is no way man can prove, scientifically, exactly how life began and the origin of man. The scientist takes a leap of faith to “prove” what exactly happened in prehistory.
This is not to say, however, that we should not try to understand how life began. But, humans should do so in a humble manner, acknowledging our limitations in order to completely understand something that is beyond the merely physical world, and something that happened before our existence on Earth.
The belief in God is a metaphysical notion, existing also outside the realm of the natural world. God the Creator cannot be fully comprehended by man, because of our limitations, and because He is supernatural. God cannot be proven or disproven completely by the sciences or by historians, because his being and powers ultimately lie outside of these human realms of understanding the world. The interpretation of the Bible as it pertains to prehistory is challenging. Theologians differ on the exact meaning, and historians are not able to use all of it as a precise history, when using the tools of the historian.
Much of higher academia today is governed by those who are without faith in God. What’s more, they believe that man is capable of understanding fully the world in which he lives in. Or, they believe that one day, humans will be able to explain completely the origin of life through science. There is much wrong with this idea.
In writing “What’s So Great About Christianity,” author Dinesh D’souza discusses evolution and Darwinism. He writes, “Evolution is a scientific theory. Darwinism is a metaphysical stance and a political ideology.” D’souza argues that evolution as a scientific theory has many problems, but even if it is true, it shows merely the mode that God designed. Darwinism, however, is an unscientific, metaphysical theory, that seeks to reject God and replace him with a materialistic view of the world and of life. It does not have as its basis scientific evidence.
The study of prehistory is wrought with more problems than answers. Man attempts to use what is available to him to discover what happened, but in the end, he needs to approach the study of prehistory with humility. Over the last few hundred years, many scientists have come to believe that humans are capable of fully understanding and explaining completely the natural world, including the origin of life and the beginning of the world, without a supernatural power. These scientists take a leap of faith, filling in missing evidence where the scientific evidence can’t fill in the answers.
_What great information! I went to the site and checked out the lesson that you had for our Founding Father...amazing. I even passed on the title of the book that Washington read as a young man to my husband and he can't wait to read it - he is a recent American History enthusiast and this was really interesting to him and I. Sincerely, Becky in Ladera Ranch
_John, I just spent the last 30 minutes reading up on your website.
I loved the testimonials, the FAQ section :)
Also, I spent quite a bit of time on George Washington. Wonderfully informative. I can explain to Joseph pretty easily. Also, I just loved the rules of conduct - I didn't quite make it thru them all, but I'll be sure to show them to my girls and have them select the few that they think are the most important. LOVED it.
Thanks for the newsletter!
Teaching with the Take a Stand! series helps me get to know my children and students better and it helps them how to think critically, form historical judgement, and express themselves in speech and in writing.