Friday, March 6, 2009

Why I like Sonlight's history sequence

Half my blog posts come out of things I write on the Homeschool-MovingOn yahoo group, and here is another one.  I had said something about US history starting so late, which prompted questions.  So, here is a re-write of what I said yesterday.

One of the reasons I haven't gone to some sort of neo-classical 4 year chronological history (Well Trained Mind or Tapestry of Grace specifically) is that they never do "just" US history. (It is important to my husband that we do spend some time focused on American history.)

Some of the other neo-classical chronologies (Veritas Press) end up focusing mostly on US history in the last 200 or so years of the chronology, and they really skimp on the rest of the world (especially the Eastern hemisphere).

I'm not saying Sonlight is the perfect balance, but it is one that works for me.  

Sonlight's sequence (I'm assuming P4/5 for the K year, one core a year, ending with Core 400 in 12th grade):

General overall stuff - two years

World history overview - two years

American history (which does lightly cover Canada and South America, doesn't really do Central America) - two years

Eastern hemisphere - one year

World history - two years

American history - one year

Church history - one year

20th Century World history - one year 

Civics/Government - one year


So, in 13 years, this includes:

2 years of general social studies (that is beyond the community helper level in many programs)

6 years of world history (that does touch on US history)

3 years of American history (that does include some history of the non-US parts of the Americas)

1 year of church history

1 year of Civics/Government (mostly US)

If I lived outside the US, I think I would plan to do the condensed Alt 3 or whatever it is called, and use that other year in elementary school to do my own thing for my country.  And I would probably replace Core 100 with a history of my country as well.  And I'd take a serious look at Core 400 and whether or not I wanted to do that, or do a Civics/Government that is more appropriate for where I live

But, given that I am a US Citizen, I think SL has hit a really good balance.  One big weakness, I think (but I don't see it addressed by ANYONE else either) is that Central America is rarely addressed, South America gets only a bit of coverage, and not a lot of time is spent on Canada either.  I will admit that growing up, I never learned ANY South or Central American history.  Living only a couple hours from Canada, I did get a bit of Canadian history, but not much.  So, SL does way more than *I* got, but I still don't think they do enough, unless that happens in a core we haven't done yet (we've done up through 5).

Compare that to, say, Abeka, starting with 1st grade:

American history - four years

World history - one year (does cover Eastern hemisphere, but also does a 'compare and contrast' with the US)

American history - one year

World history - one year

American history - one year

World Geography - one year (high school starts here)

World History - one year

American History - one year  (billed as a "positive, patriotic approach")

American Government - one semester

Economics - one semester


4 years of world history or geography

7 years of American history

1 year of Government/econ

Ugh.  And that is without getting into whether or not a "positive, patriotic approach" is appropriate at the high school level.

Bob Jones is almost identical.  The only difference I see is that the two world history years before high school are back to back... so five years of US, two of World, one of US.  So their world history is a bit more like Cores 6-7 in that they go together.

Abeka mirrors fairly well what *my* experience was in school, except I don't think I had a year of world history in jr. high, I had world geography then instead of high school.  And I only had three years of social studies in high school, not four.

I think most public schools would be pretty close to the Abeka or Bob Jones model too, except that K-2 are more community studies with a smattering of US history in there.  Of course, most public schools would do American history from the 'everything the US has ever done is evil and bigoted' approach, instead of the "rich in Christian insight" or "positive, patriotic" sides.  I don't like either extreme.

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