I have always loved the word watershed. Perhaps it’s all my childhood hikes near the Continental Divide: I have always known that right here, the country’s waters divide: half flowing east, half flowing west.
I can’t say I’ve had a lot of watershed moments in my life. But I had one last week.
I have planned for years to follow the trivium concept of a four-year classical history cycle: Ancients, Middle Ages, Renaissance to Civil War; post-Civil War. We used Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of the World for three years and were very happy with the first two years. The third year was equally engaging, but I felt like I had whiplash all year– everything was just moving too quickly. So our fourth year, we used Genevieve Foster’s Abraham Lincoln’s World. It was equally broad in its focus on world history (rather than just American History), but spending a year on a much shorter time span really helped me. But what now?
I think the 20th Century is a hard time for younger kids to study. I have a hard time putting my finger on why, though. Is it that there is such an abundance of primary sources available, and yet because it’s so… present?… it can be much more disturbing than ancient history (though atrocities abound in both periods)? I don’t think that’s the only reason, but clearly there’s something about it that makes it hard. It’s no wonder The Story of the World, Volume 4, took awhile to come out; there are no Genevieve Foster books on 20th Century figures; and The Mystery of History has yet to produce a book for the fourth year of the classical cycle.
I digress. Thank you for bearing with me.
For these reasons (and others), I elected to return to the ancients for next year’s history study. I looked at a lot of reviews from cyberfolks I respect, and I came up with The Mystery of History for next year. Very excited, I placed my order and waited… and it arrived! Hooray! I opened it, read a lesson at random… and had my watershed moment.
I think the reason people love The Mystery of History and other curricula like it is that it has looked at the history and made all sorts of amazing connections for us. Great. Except that sometime in the past year, I have become a Charlotte Mason educator. And I don’t want someone else to do all that mental work for us– I want us to do it ourselves. I want my children to engage thoroughly with the text (of whatever we’re reading) and connect history with science with Gospel with literature with art… you get the idea.
So I returned MOH. I know it is a blessing to many, and could have been a blessing to us. But I have faith in my children that when we sit together to enter a living book about Theodora or Caesar or Hannibal, we’re going to discover some really marvelous connections ourselves. And that’s why we’re home, doing school together.