Episode 15: History Things



Beyond the books, what are some tools that are useful in putting history into living color for a child? At what age should we begin to use a timeline, or should we use a timeline at all? How do we implement the book of centuries? Listen in as we wrestle with some of the things that make history lessons come alive.

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If you would like to study along with us, here are some passages from The Home Education Series and other Parent's Review articles that would be helpful for this episode's topic. You may also read the series online here, or get the free Kindle version from Fisher Academy.

Home Education (Volume 1), pg. 292

Towards a Philosophy of Education (Volume 6), pg. 177

Miss Beale's Parents' Review Article on "The Teaching of Chronology"

Parents' Review Article on making and keeping a Book of Centuries



The Living Page, Laurie Bestvater

(Contains affiliate links)



Laurie Bestvater's Book of Centuries

Another Book of Centuries from Riverbend Press

Bernau's Article on the Book of Centuries With much gratitude to the Charlotte Mason Institute for making this PDF available

Beale's Article on the Teaching of Chronology With much gratitude to the Charlotte Mason Institute for making this PDF available

H.B.'s Article on the Teaching of History With much gratitude to the Charlotte Mason Institute for making this PDF available

Biggar's Article on How to Make a Century Chart With much gratitude to the Charlotte Mason Institute for making this PDF available

22 comments:

  1. Thank you! :) I especially loved how you mentioned just having them sketch an item and not necessarily write in a written entry. I think this is a PERFECT solution to some reluctance on my oldest part and also helpful for my struggling reader. What do you think of them drawing an actual person, my oldest wants to do that a lot and I wasn't sure...I want to let her choose herself, but I also wanted a few parameters like you said. When would you suggest doing the century chart of 20 columns...is that for younger students and what did the "chart of me" look like, or was that just on one sheet of paper??? Maybe I missed you telling about it? Miss Beale's Grid was for a bit older students??? I can't wait to read her article again closely. I too love The Living Page being such a journal-a-holic, I was delighted with it! I am really looking forward to your Q&A session!

    Eventually, will you do a episode on Geography? :) ;) I know, I know...I'm impatient. :)

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  2. Thanks for sharing your interpretation of Charlotte's history study. I've now completed listening to all four of The Knowledge of Man podcasts, some of which gave me new information and some of which brought forth a refresher.

    I was particularly intrigued by the disparities between AO and CM. I am so thankful for the work of the women behind AO, as well as your study, and realize we are all learning as we go. The digital collection sounds like a wonderful resource.

    Regarding the BOC, after reading Bestvater's book, I created my interpretation of the BOC and offer an explanation and FREE version here...

    http://reflectionsfromdrywoodcreek.blogspot.com/2015/07/our-book-of-centurieswith-free-templates.html#comment-form

    I was pleased to hear that it sounds very much in line with your podcast.

    Thanks for your effort and research,
    Melissa

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    1. Melissa,

      As Mason would say, we are all feeling our way. It sounds as if you are definitely a seeker of truth. We are all very grateful for the work of our AO friends.

      -Liz

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  3. Hello!
    I am looking for direction on how to actually implement the book of centuries on a day-to-day basis. Up to now, I have suggested names to put in my 11yo son's book, but he does not come up with names on his own. Last year, I kept a white board list during the week and on Friday would have him make the entries. But they were *my* ideas. Do you have any ideas how to move him to independence on this? How to schedule it to support this goal?

    Thank you!

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    1. Kelly,

      I think you are hitting on an important distinction that is often missed when beginning to keep a Book of Centuries. I think we, moms, look at the BOC and see "TIMELINE!" Yet, Mason's instructions for Forms II and III is simply "draw illustrations from all history studied--Bible, British, French, and General (Ancient)." CM used various history charts beginning in Form I to help the child develop an understanding of chronology, and those continued on even after a BOC was begun. I'd recommend the PR Article "The Teaching of Chronology" by Miss Beale to get you started on those, but as far as the BOC goes, I'd encourage you to share the vision for the book with your son--that it is his own possession that he will keep for the rest of his life. To carefully look for artifacts he could draw (cutting out pre-made timeline figures or pictures does not accomplish the same relationships that are the goal of the BOC) and put into the book on the appropriate century's page. I recommend collecting books like Edwin Tunis' and Leonard Everett Fisher's Colonial Craftsmen, for example, that will provide plenty of images to put form to what your son reads.

      As far as history charts go, I would start using the 100 squares chart alongside one biography that you are reading and adding in events from a single man's life, then, when you read another biography of a man (or woman) who was a contemporary, you could have your son put important events on that same chart for the second person--giving him the idea that they were up to important things at the same time...Then you will move on to keeping a chart of a single century (on a separate chart than the one in the BOC) and trying to fill in as much as possible. These charts are to be used along with the BOC, but the BOC, being a lifelong possession and self-directed by the student, will be filled in much more gradually as they learn to distill exactly what events are the most meaningful--this comes only after quite a bit of study. You can see why an 11-year old would be reluctant to fill his book in! He doesn't have the perspective yet that will help him decide what to write down. But the drawings, those he can add as giving a picture of how people lived in a particular century.

      You asked about scheduling, and this is one of the things that a child had freedom to accomplish on his own time--that way if he becomes involved in a drawing, the lesson-period doesn't end before he's ready. He should know that at some point in the afternoon, about once a week, he should be adding something to his book. It really is simple, but because it is foreign to us teachers, it seems like a big deal. It is, but it should be a natural tool to help your son organize and synthesize his history knowledge. The Book of Centuries wasn't kept until all three streams of history were being studied.

      I hope that helps clarify, and encourage you and your son!

      Emily

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    2. Emily,
      It is a delightful challenge to pull all of this together! But I keep striving every year to implement her ideas a bit more faithfully because I think they are simply brilliant.

      My sincere thank you for the time you put into this explanation - it helps so much!

      Kelly

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  4. I am listening to this podcast episode for the third time, taking notes now. I am partway through The Living Page (at your recommendation) and am grilling my CM friends about how they do these things. I appreciate your research and the way you are mentoring me from so far away.

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    1. Tasmanian,

      We are also thankful the podcasts are helping you along the road in teaching with Mason's methods.

      -Liz

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  5. So, I am confused on whether the youngest elementary students should start History in the 1700s, or something more along the lines of state history (eg. exploration of Kentucky, being where we live)?

    -Hannah

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    1. Hannah,

      History is always taught consecutively, and if you have older students already in that flow of history learning, the younger children jump into time wherever the older ones are. Also, it is the history of your entire country that is studied. I often suggest the study of your particular area and state be a part of the Geography lessons, but you will be learning the exploration and settlement of your own state in the course of your American history studies.

      -Emily

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  6. I am steadily working my way through your podcasts and finding them immensely helpful. At the moment I am mostly unschooling my 6 y.o. but am increasingly motivated to add more Charlotte Mason elements as I listen to your discussions!

    I had one quick question about the history chart which I want to start using with my son. If it's 20 columns on a page, with one century per column, do you need 2 pages - one for BC and one for AD? Or is it assuming you're not covering BC yet?

    Katie

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    1. Katie,

      Mason would not have done such a chart for such a young child. (The first step to learning chronology is to do a "Child's Own History" chart and learn to start using a tool to understand time.) I believe Emily will be sharing about the various charts in upcoming conversations. Also, keep in mind that Mason's education is a whole, not bits and pieces to be implemented at random, and all the elements have a place in the whole picture.

      Liz

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  7. Thank you for answering, Liz. I look forward to hearing more in future podcasts!

    I thought the centuries chart would help my son because his grasp of time seems to be pretty good. He's devoured history books since he first taught himself to read age 2. He's memorised lots of his British History book (child's textbook style), read Our Island Story a few times, and several books covering the whole of the English monarchy as well as lots of others. He cross-references dates and facts between books and gets annoyed when they don't match. His understanding of the sequence of monarchs and various other events in British history is better than mine, and he's spent a lot of time reading about specific periods too. I've not really read any history with him yet (!), but he likes to talk to me about the books he's reading. I think one of my big worries about using a 'system' like Mason's rather than unschooling is that you end up following the system rather than your child's abilities & interests - and the two don't necessarily match up.

    I get that using Mason's whole system would be much better, but I don't think it would work for us right now. Both my boys are pretty resistant to adult-directed activities. My 3 y.o. is usually unable/unwilling either to listen quietly or play on his own while I read to my older son, with the exception of one story book chapter a day. (We do insist on reading the Bible daily whether they like it or not, and they both have daily strops about how much they hate it, which is really discouraging.)

    I also find that with my young children, the time taken up by errands, housework, gardening, going out for exercise twice a day, meeting up with friends, going to a weekly home ed group, having grandparents visit etc, the only 'structured' activities we can manage to squeeze into our day are reading the Bible and our story book. Almost all our education happens through conversation while we're doing errands or jobs at home because there just isn't any more time in the day.
    The other home edding mothers I know with similar aged children all seem to face the same challenges, which is why none of us is managing to do many structured activities, even if we want to. I'm hoping that as my boys get older and more independent with things like washing, dressing, toileting and going to sleep, we will have more time for formal education.

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    1. Katie,

      I don't know how this comment slipped past me, but I just saw it today!

      You said above, "I think one of my big worries about using a 'system' like Mason's rather than unschooling is that you end up following the system rather than your child's abilities & interests - and the two don't necessarily match up."

      I would just like to state, for the record, that CM is absolutely not a system that is hard and fast, rather it is a cohesive method that allows for the individuality of the child at its core. That is why the first principle of CM education is "Children are born persons." This seemingly simple phrase is the bedrock upon which she built her method to take into account the natural inclination of *all* children while leaving room for the individual child to progress at his own rate.

      As for your sons' resistance to "adult-directed" activities, I would encourage you to read Mason's 6th volume: Towards a Philosophy of Education, especially paying attention to what she has to say about authority and docility. This is a crucial lesson all humans must learn or we will have constant strife in our lives forever more.

      Journeying with you,

      Emily

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  8. Thank you for your reply, Emily! I have to admit that reading volume 6 is pretty depressing as I think about my eldest son. Either things are going well and DS1 is mostly compliant without too much fuss, or things aren't good and he is very resistant to even reasonable requests. We've had quite a long bad patch recently so I've been feeling quite negative about him. I don't recall ever seeing that 'proud subjection' that Mason talks about. He also hates the fact that my husband and I are subject to authority and can't just do what we like!

    Having said that, listening to your podcasts and talking here and on the FB group have really helped clarify my thinking about some of his behavioural and compliance issues. I had been thinking of it as him just being difficult, but I've got to the point of realising he has mild symptoms of pathological demand avoidance syndrome, which is an autistic spectrum disorder. He does have some ASD problems, though they are much better than they used to be. I think the key thing I've realised is that people making lots of demands on him causes him a high level of stress which then produces difficult behaviour.

    As it happens, I've been able to work out some of the causes of things being bad lately eg slacking off on giving some of his usual vitamins, and things have certainly improved since then which is good.

    So thank you for helping me think and bearing with me questioning everything!

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  9. I have listened to all of your podcasts and taken notes on many. I'm sorry if I missed your explaining this, but I have a question: are the history tools used during the 20 or 30 min time slots for history or in the afternoon? Or maybe the writing is part of the history lesson and the drawing part of the afternoon? This will effect how many pages we have time to read and how I set up my schedule. My kids are form 2 & 3. Thank you all again so much for offering this valuable resource.

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    1. This really depends on the tools you are thinking of. The Book of Centuries is always an afternoon, once a week, activity. History Charts weren't specified and the way I've seen lessons for them set up, it appears they would take an entire lesson one week to set up a particular century chart. The Streams of History chart could be added to, however, easily in a minute or two at the end of the lesson.
      -Emily

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  10. Thank you, Emily. That makes sense.

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  11. Thank you so much for all this information! It is so inspiring! I am transitioning to Charlotte Mason, so I am still a newbie. But am I correct in my understanding that history should be taught through reading books, narrating, and doing other "things" (as you discuss in your podcast) in forms 3 and 4, too? I feel like I am missing something after coming from a more public school mindset. Thanks!

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    1. Stephanie,

      For a "newbie," you've got the basics right. As the children reach higher forms, the books increase in content and difficulty, the narration includes writing, and the things are more analytical, but the basics never change.
      -Liz

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    2. Thanks so much! Would you please elaborate on what you mean by things becoming more analytical? I think that's where I'm getting stuck.

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    3. Stephanie,

      The younger form has more story, and upper forms discuss bigger ideas of thinking and movements in different eras. The content becomes a little deeper.

      -Liz

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