One of my other homeschooling friends read my post about Drystan and succinctly tweeted, "That is freakin' awesome." She told me about her own "harvest" today when her six-year old read a magic tree-house book all by herself, all on her own, just for fun. It's been a hard road to help this child read but my friend tweeted a beautiful observation: "Parenting...turns out it works."
With the twenty minutes I have before dinner, I felt inspired to post one more "harvest" moment we reaped this week with Alex. For school, this Semester, we've really pushed Alex into a much more rigorous and difficult academic mode. We are expecting a lot more out of him, but none of it is busy work. We are pushing him to really expand his world-view and his critical thinking.
One area that I helped plan was his History classes. Teaching history to a 10, 9, and 6 year old is complicated to say the least. For our "basic" history, we are using the Story of the World textbook on Ancient History. The older two boys have to read this on their own while Amy reads it out loud with the 6 year old. Amy and the three boys meet together in a history "class" once a week to discuss and to do hands-on projects (like creating cuneiform tablets!). The older two boys also have to take tests on the material.
But to be honest, I'm not particularly fond of the the book. The chapters are more like pamphlets and devoid of much in the way of meaningful content. The events related in the book are often put in a misleading light even with regard to the chronology. On the flip side, until my children start getting 100% on the tests, I grudgingly have to admit that it's a worthwhile exercise. And it does provide us a basic timeline to work with.
But for Alex, it isn't enough and we developed an extra history class for him this semester focused on Greek history. This class is largely devoid of chronology and timelines because we expect him to learn that from the other class. Instead, his Greek history class if focused on Greek philosophy, politics, law, art, and architecture. The goal is to better understand the Greek impact on the world.
The fist several weeks have been mini-lessons (mostly from encyclopedias and so forth) on the famous three Greek philosophers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
This last week, was the first one about politics. I found a series of articles for him about Athenian politics.
- Athenian Democracy, A Brief Overview
- The Development of Athenian Democracy
- Athens to Empire
- Athenian Politics and Government
His assignment was to read these and write a two-page paper about the topic.
As I was taking him to cub scouts on Wednesday night, I asked him if he had read these articles and what he thought. I wish I could play the recording of his response because it was the tone of his voice that made this a "harvesting" moment for me.
"That was the coolest thing I have ever read."
I was so excited to hear my nearly 11-year old express such joy and excitement from reading about this early political experiment in democracy. As I think about him learning about Greek political thought this semester, Roman political thought next semester, and the development of law in England up to the Revolutionary war, I feel happy and confident that when we teach the Constitution of the United States, he will understand it better than almost any of his peers. When we talk about politics and law in the contemporary United States, he will perceive and understand in ways I cannot yet fathom.
More than anything else, I have great faith that this anchoring knowledge will keep him safe from political, social, and media manipulation.
If that isn't a bountiful harvest to look forward to, I don't know what is.