01 June 2007

Bidding Adieu to Another Curriculum

Last week we finished up Introduction to Classical Studies from Memoria Press.

I had purchased the Study Guide from Memoria, and the other 3 books from various other sources.

The study guide schedules 4 days per week. The first day has a Bible reading from the Golden Children's Bible; the second day features another reading from the Bible plus a section of D'Aulaires' Greek Myths; day three has a Bible reading plus a segment of Famous Men of Rome; and the fourth day finishes up with a Bible reading.

Questions are included over Famous Men of Rome and the Greek myths (the Greek myths questions are considered "honors work"). Suggestions are included for mapwork, drawing pictures, and filling in time lines. Each week has a Bible verse to memorize, and many weeks have other tidbits to memorize, such as a list of the (Biblical) patriarchs or a list of the (Roman) Triumverate.

The idea is that you'll go through this curriculum once per year for 3 years, each pass through getting more detailed.

I thought, okay, this first time through we'll pretty much read through the stuff, answer the questions in the book, and sort of hang loose. I just read through the various stuff to memorize on a daily basis -- I didn't require a recitation of it, I simply aimed for familiarity.

The drawing projects sounded like a nice touch, although I'd want to sort of "Waldorf" them up...in other words, for a younger child I would draw the picture myself, then have the child draw it following my example (for a slightly older child we might do it together, discussing how we want to portray things). But, really, I don't think anyone desiring to bring Waldorf into their homeschool would choose this curriculum, given that it mixes Old Testament, Greece and Rome -- those are studied in separate years in Waldorf schools, not dumped all together.

Things we liked:

I really like the pronunciation guide for the Greek names.

Ummm...that's pretty much it on things we liked.

Things we tolerated:

Pretty much everything else.

Really, the kids liked the Greek myths. Kid1 was already familiar with most. It's a subject she enjoys (as did I at about that age...which is why Waldorf schools teach it at about that age). She's read the first two Percy Jackson books, which she adored.

Kid2 started complaining somewhere in the New Testament, "when are we going to be finished reading the Bible?" We had gone through the entire Egermeier's Bible Story Book prior to this with no complaints, but I think she's having Bible story burnout now.

Both kids disliked Famous Men of Rome, which they dubbed Men Killing Each Other. Really, I don't think it's such an awful book, but using the questions in the Study Guide tended to suck all of the narrative interest right out of the stories. So, why did I use the questions? Pigheadedness on my part -- I wanted to know that they were absorbing something out of all of this (well, something other than "Romans like to kill each other"). Also, I noted some discrepancies between the answers given in the back of the Study Guide and the information given in Famous Men of Rome on occasion. Tiny mistakes in curriculum we like -- okay; tiny mistakes in curriculum we don't like -- annoying.

(Please note: when we read Story of the World 1 a couple of years back Kid1 really disliked the Romans then, too, and we ended up skipping through pretty much the last 400 years of that book. So it isn't necessarily a function of the presentation of Famous Men of Rome or Intro to Classical Studies -- my kids just aren't that interested in that period of Roman history.)

Actually, juxtaposing all of the readings tended to emphasize that the Israelites tended to kill each other and their enemies off at about the same rate as did the Romans. Also we noticed more of the repeating-myths -- the stories common to Israel, Greece and Rome (and a whole lot of other civilizations, as I recall -- as my brother says, the rivers back then were just lousy with babies being floated down them to hide them from wicked rulers).

Overall, I doubt we'll go through this Study Guide again. I think rioting would break out if I pulled it off the shelf to read.

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