Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2013-2014 Planning by Subjects :: History

We all thoroughly enjoyed history lessons this past year.  This was the basis for many of our lapbooks. It was a surprise, to me, that each of my children enjoyed it so much.  We're using SOTW as a guide. I must be honest and say that we really didn't use the book beyond the first few chapters. However, I did like the activity guides that come with each level and used quite a bit of the ideas & activities.  We spent most all of our time on the continent of Africa.  There are so many groups of people and history of the ancient times that is totally missing from most all of the history books used when I was in school as well as what are being used now.  I also used the book From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans by John Hope Franklin.  It's a college level text but is so thorough, I had to use it.  I also found a lot of good resources online and have pinned many of them to my Pinterest board (Ancient History, American History, and Geography).

We used several documentaries found on both YouTube and Netflix when reading materials were limited and hard to find.  I also have several friends I've found on Facebook who also use history as the base for their homeschooling lessons who have shared a vast array of books and resources that are specifically for the people from the continent of Africa.

We have ALL been mis-educated--those in the West, I mean, specifically.  What I don't know personally, very few, if any of my white counterparts know either.  The difference is that learning about European history is mandatory.  It's what seen as 'American.'  It's even what's seen as having a 'world view.'  Any history about any other group of people is typically told from a European perspective, which can never be the full story, is rarely the true story and at the very best, only a 'museum view' of that people or culture.  (By 'museum view' I mean it's taken totally out of context and is critiqued based on standards other than those of the people whose culture it was taken out of to be put on display.  Look at history, Europeans went around the world destroying people and places, saving only the items that 'caught their eye' and building places to house those 'treasures.'  Then create the back stories of these treasures and writing books to document these stories.) 

What has ended up happening is that the study of people of color has been relegated to elective studies, so only those who have purposely decided to know more do.  The general American population, and perhaps all those in Western society, know very little, in general, about this history.  We've even gone a step further, here in the U.S., by dividing of different groups into a weeks or two (if you're lucky a whole month) of study or focus on the contributions they've made to the American society.  This often appears (to the untrained eye) to be very inclusive and welcoming, however the history of all the people who were either here on this land before we arrived, along with all the histories of the people who were brought here (against their will) or chose to come here make up the full history of America.  The fact that we only know about a small part -- the European part -- has disastrous implications, not only to all people of color but to all those without it as well. 

If we are truly seeking something better for ourselves and our country and our world, it's time to stop sitting with your head in the sand and start doing something different.  Our history is world history.  Our history is American history. Period.

For the past few years I have been rather nervous about just how to teach history, where to begin, what to include, what to leave out, etc., etc.  Unfortunately, I have encountered people of color who want to portray themselves as 'having it all together' and 'knowing all their history' and 'the authorities on history' etc.  Those encounters have left me feeling intimated and often times discouraged.

Nonetheless, I'm realizing that I have to learn what I don't know and last year I simply decided to do just that along with my children.  When I learn something, I share it with them and we explore it together---just like we do with other things.  Naturally.  Without the stress of having to be the one who 'knows it all.'

So this summer I've found some new things and have been reading through several books so that I have more information and stories to share with them about our ancestors from the Motherland.

Now, I am from a diverse family and have many ethnicities and cultures within my family.  The care that I am seeking to have with learning about our African heritage, I want to have with learning about our Native American heritage, our African American heritage and our European heritage.  What I want my children to have is a strong sense of who they are and how they have been in the world.  As they grow we will definitely have more challenging conversations, but I want them to have the most true perspective of what has happened in the past so they don't have to repeat it.  What better way then to use primary sources for our history lessons.  (By primary sources, I mean sources written by the people who experienced that history first hand, as far as possible.)

I have found several great resources for this.  Here's a quick list of what I've been using to learn and what I will be using as we progress through history.  Please note that as I learn more, this list will grow!

From Slavery to Freedom : A History of African Americans by John Hope Franklin
Into Africa : A Journey through the Ancient Empires by Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle
Life in Ancient Africa by Hazel Richardson
The Ancient World by Kingfisher
Seven Wonders of Ancient Africa by Michael Woods and Mary B. Woods
A People's History of the United States : 1492-Present by Howard Zinn
The Twentieth Century : A People's History by Howard Zinn
A Young People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn adapted by Rebecca Stefoff
The People Speak : American Voices, Some Famous, Some Little Known edited by Howard Zinn

I am still working out the units that we will cover this year.  With so much happening I may do a bit of moving from the distant past to the recent past.  But, for now, this is what I'm planning:

Into Africa by Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle and From Slavery to Freedom by John Hope Franklin will be may main spins for the first part of the year.  I will be using the main divisions of Into Africa as my units
Unit 1: Monomotapa
Unit 2: The Land of Zanj and the Birth of the Swahili
Unit 3: Towards Azania
Unit 4:  Kongo
Unit 5: The Gulf of Guinea (Cameroon, Ife, Oyo, Benin, Dahomey, Ashanti, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone)
Unit 6: The Sahel : The Golden Empires of the Sun (Old Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Kanem-Bornu, Tuareg and Timbuktu, Fulani, Hausa Kingdoms, Colonial Sahel, The Dogon)

My children are still young (6, 8, 10) and so we will go as in depth as possible for their ages.  I want them to have some basic knowledge and as they get older we will cycle back through more in depth.  A bonus to homeschooling.

I will also be using this site as a resource:

I also want to read about some people of African descent that we have not yet heard about.  Another sister-friend shared this list with those in our homeschool group and I'm planning to simply go down the list and learn about them.  (Will share the list once I locate it, again.)

I've been going through my library system's site to find books that can go along with all of this.  I'm also gathering my materials for the lapbooks we'll make and notebooking pages we'll do.

I'm don't feel as overwhelmed as I once did.  I'm a bit excited.

How are you integrating history into your homeschool this year?  What do you use, if anything and how do you go about it?

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