Monday, April 16, 2012

Why British History First?

A Storehouse of Ideas
Much that has been said about the teaching of geography applies equally to that of history. Here, too, is a subject which should be to the child an inexhaustible storehouse of ideas, should enrich the chambers of his House Beautiful with a thousand tableaux, pathetic and heroic, and should form in him, insensibly, principles whereby he will hereafter judge of the behaviour of nations, and will rule his own conduct as one of a nation.  Charlotte Mason

When I had made the decision to use the Ambleside Online Curriculum, in our homeschool I was a little baffled by the choice of this particular British history book by H.E. Marshall starting in Year 1.  In all of my education experience we had only studied American history in elementary school.  It made sense to me that we would first study the country we live in.  Fortunately, my good friend June explained the importance of studying British history.  Our country started out as colonies of England.  I don't know why I never thought about this.  Of course I knew the first pilgrim colony consisted of English men, women and Children.  The events in England effected events in our country and profoundly effected the founding fathers.  If you know British history you better understand why a small group of people came to start our country, leaving everything familiar willing to brave untold hardships.  Understanding British history provides the context for our country's history.  Marshall's book is captivating and brings the past to life.  History becomes the context for artists, musicians, poets, and writers of literature who lived during this time as well.  What was happening in the church and government and the ideas of the time where communicated by the artists, musicians, and writers.  Therefore, students who study the art, music, poetry and literature during that time are able to naturally make connections.

The mistake we make is to suppose that imagination is fed by nature, or that it works on the insipid diet of children's storybooks.  Let a child have the meat he requires in his history readings, and in the literature which naturally gathers round this history, and imagination will bestir itself without any help of ours; the child will live out in detail a thousand scenes of which he only gets the merest hint.  Charlotte Mason  

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