My last cycle of high school history with my last high schooler. I need a moment.
The question, “So, what grade are you in?” is often an interesting one for a homeschooled kid. The truth is that we have been in 9th grade, with the exception of wrapping up 8th grade science and history. Grammar? Technically, we are completing a 6th grade text with a college-prep level supplement, but since Rod and Staff series end in 9/10th grade, well…
We step into what I am calling “full-blown” high school in January (except for continuing our grammar progression), and I am loving it. I mean, like “High School Musical” loving it (lol). I think the primary reason high school excites me is because of all that I get to learn. What I am most excited about is…
An increased focus on classics. There is a lot of discussion out there about banning certain books from school libraries, either because of their use of certain words, or because of the theme(s), etc. Candidly, so much of what I see today for children and teens is so ridiculously watered down in political correctness and spoon-fed morals until there is little room for meaningful discussion. I realize that a greater population of children navigates the murky waters of divorce and co-parenting or single parenting; I know gangs and drugs and cyberbullying are real issues. But I continue to believe that understanding our present and changing our future is inextricably tied to knowing our past, and that knowledge calls upon a thinking generation to be able to dig deeper. So I am embracing the chance to read—again—all those ancient epics and to share with the youngest the nature of the epic itself, including:
- Man’s initial reluctance
- Man against larger forces than himself
- Man is tested and finds helpers
- Man endures a supreme (major) ordeal
- Man is changed by his experience
(Learning through History magazine, Ancient Near East)
Achilles, Odysseus, Beowulf, the Pavency children, Percy Jackson—they could all be described within the characteristics of the epic. But so, too, can the lives of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Ida Wells Barnett, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.
A return to notebooking and notetaking. We continued with our notebooking for middle school history, but deviated a bit in science when I decided to use Time 4 Learning in these last couple of years. Time 4 Learning is a fun, computer-based program; it simply took us away from our core, and I am not sure the trip was totally worth it. I find myself vacillating between the “give her the plugged-in bells and whistles she likes” and my own conviction that pencil and paper beats a computer for learning retention any day. It took me two years for the pendulum to swing back the other way, but I am excited about returning to a text given me by my MIL and some good old-fashioned interaction with the turning of pages.
We have been using the Cornell note taking method with our logic studies, and I am thinking, at least today, that we will expand on this with both science and (to a lesser extent) history. My objective is to help the youngest understand how to organize her thoughts, which then helps in expressing them either verbally or in written form. It is a different route than I went with the older two, but that young mind chews on more when those hands are moving.
Essay development and college-level writing. In the past, I focused our efforts almost exclusively on grammar, leaving a large portion of composition development to the community college. In accommodating differences again, I wanted to give the youngest more time to practice articulating her many opinions (lol). So I will allow her more time for interviews with our relative (literally and figuratively) historians, more time to learn to write comparisons and contrasts, more time to describe and to persuade.
As much as I enjoy putting all of this together, I have done this enough to humbly realize that all I am bringing are my two fish and five loaves. What I am more excited about is what the Lord will do with all of her knowledge, and where He will expand her mind and mold her passions. I have a schedule, but I am leaving room for Him to show up and show out. He has much work to do—in both of us, and I cannot wait.
Some other posts on related topics:
Wiki on the Cornell note-taking method
Some thoughts on Huckleberry Finn (among other things)