Saturday, November 08, 2008

Rambling On About Year 8 History

Triss and I are just really tired of Mr. Churchill, and I am so sorry about that. We are both ready to throw the book at the wall. It is so hard to read.

But on the other hand... we have both learned so much about the foundations of American government using Churchill's books. I had no idea what English Common Law was until we read Churchill. We have gotten to watch the government of the Island of Albion move from British to English to Norman, have seen the barons rise up and insist on rights, have watched Parliament form. I can *feel* the foundations being built through the readings in Churchill's A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, and can see the influence of the English on U.S. government. This is so important. I know it is. We just *can't* give up this course of reading.

But... It is so slow! And it deals only with English history! (Eventually, the books deal with American history too, but we aren't there yet.) Triss is currently reading history set in the Reformation and Renaissance. She is reading a book on the Spanish Armada, and a book on Columbus, and Utopia by Sir Thomas More, and the Life of Bacon. She will also read a biography of Galileo, a book on John Donne. This is a lot of reading, but none of it is a general history of the time period. She asked me yesterday if there might be a Genevieve Foster "World" book set in the Renaissance and Reformation. I expect The World of Columbus and Sons fits the bill, but I think all these ancillary history books listed in HEO's Year 8 perform a similar service-- a close-up shot of several important people and events in the era. So I should be okay with these in-depth individual histories, and not worry so much about a general history. But I worry. I'm pretty sure we are missing something. (This is so funny, because of course we are missing things. Who can study *everything* about an era?)

Yesterday I showed Triss From Dawn to Decadence and we read the foreword and first section, which was on Luther and the dawn of the Reformation. Jacques Barzun is a good writer with a love for his subject, and she enjoyed the reading. We really don't want to add *another* book, but then again, we really want this one added. He pulls out themes that run through the modern age-- the time period roughly between 1500 AD and 2000 AD-- highlights important events and people in each time, and shows how they contributed to or fought against developing ideas. We could read it for the next three years. Perhaps it wouldn't be *that* much additional reading, right?

But it just can't replace Churchill, much as that would please us. Erg. So I thought we were solving a problem and easing things a little in the Year 8 history department, and we ended up adding a book instead.

1 comment:

Willa said...

My daughter loves Churchill -- but she is eighteen. I think we first talked about having her study the books when she was about 15 or 16. But she didn't get into them for a couple of years after that. Now he is one of her heroes : ).

I admire you two for going for Barzun! I got about 100 pages through. I want to try again this winter -- somehow it's easier tackling those long books with tiny print during the winter months.