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09 December 2009


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By the way, If you're interested in a list of the books we actually read, as opposed to the long list of books I wished I would have the time to read, let me know and I'll pull it out from my records.


I'm really liking these posts. I'm just so impressed - I went to public school, and history was always a pain. It always felt like the story part of it was obscured behind all those little paragraphs you noted in the post. Plus, of all the times I've had "American History" we never managed to even get past WWI, so the 20th century is a giant hole for me (up until I can start remembering things on my own, which is in the 90s). That just makes it so much more interesting to "hear" all your considerations as you plan your curriculum.


Thank you, Rebekka! The 20th century is daunting, and exciting to me at the same time, for the reasons you mentioned. It has been SO helpful that I am responsible for teaching not just my own children, but a couple of other friends' children too, and so I am getting lots of feedback from them about the material I'm selecting, and also some help sifting through some of the topics.

In a way I'm sort of sneakily pushing onto my kids, when they're older, the responsibility of memorizing whatever dates and place-names and the like they are going to have to remember for their further educational and cultural needs. But maybe that's actually for the best (given that they are getting practice in what I call "memory work" in other subjects). After all, you cannot memorize EVERYTHING -- and it is they, when they are older, figuring out their life path, who will know better than I do exactly how to specialize, how to "spend" their available memory to best suit their own needs. I'll do my best for now to make sure that they at least learn what order stuff happened in.


Personally I think it is much more important and satisfying to emphasize the larger themes of the different time periods than raw memorization of a timeline. I think it can be frustrating (at least for someone like me) to be bombarded with only dates and people in a never-ending stream where all seems to be equally important (or unimportant), whereas by emphasizing the themes synthesis becomes much easier, and the events and people fall into a more natural context. I know that I have forgotten much of the dates and such I learned in my history classes but I still remember things like "WESTWARD EXPANSION!!!" :-)

I'm looking forward to watching over your shoulder when you tackle the 20th century.

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