Tuesday, February 04, 2014

History never repeats!

Last week, I sat down with my two to do some homeschooling. I had a few things I wanted to get done that day, start on our Yr 9 History, start on our science research project, finish up some Shakespeare.

We didn't get past history!

The morning started off ordinarily enough - I got out our History textbook, and we read about the Enlightenment together. Of course, when I say "read through" I mean read a bit, discuss a bit, listen to me get on my soapbox and rave a bit, be amazed my son's wit and ability to join disparate concepts together a bit. See, this is why I LOVE homeschooling - you can't have in depth analysis and discussion like that in a classroom, or even a tutorial group. But three of us? Just watch us!

Then we quickly ran through the "questions" at the end of the chapter orally - but we had largely discussed most of the concepts already. I then got them to write up some definitions in their shiny new history exercise books (those school-going parents can't have all the stationery fun!).

Please ignore the handwriting - I'm just glad they write at all with no tears!
They handled this remarkably well. I've written about our writing issues before, but a task like this previously would have involved tears, stomping, possibly yelling, threats to go back to school (and that's just me), but they actually settled down nicely and completed it in a reasonable timeframe. There is hope!!!

It was nearly lunchtime - not worth starting anything else, so I suggested we search YouTube for a short video about the Enlightenment. Which we found and it helped reinforce what we had just discussed/written about:

A bit old-fashioned, but it did the job. We had a look at this one, mainly because it was made by the same people who do the Periodic Videos of the Elements:

AND THEN, we found Crash Course in World History series of videos! I had heard of Crash Course - they do fast-paced videos on Biology and Chemistry, but I didn't know they did history as well. From the Agricultural Revolution through to Globalisation, John Green takes you through world history. So, I said, yes, let's watch the first one:

It's not for little kids, but for my two, particularly my short-attention span, witty boy, it is perfect. Both kids have INHALED Horrible Histories a few years back and these are like Horrible Histories for teens/adults. Fast-paced, funny, great graphics, witty, peppered with popular culture references, funny and thoughtful. It's more than dates and events and famous historical figures - he asks deep questions, looks at historical sources of information and skewed views of history.

We loved it! Suffice to say, that was it for the afternoon - we just kept watching! And the next few afternoons after that too. We are just about up to the Enlightenment now :-)

And you can buy it on DVD (they are not paying my to say that, I'm just helpful that way. But Crash Course people, if you are reading, I'll be happy to accept commission).

But I warn you - history will never be the same and be prepared to lose DAYS from your carefully planned out homeschool schedule because of all that pesky desire to learn more and immerse yourself in history.

Have you ever lost days to immersing yourself in something interesting?
What do you use to study history?
How good is YouTube (yanno, aside from cats)?


  1. Love, love, love moments like this! This is why I homeschool:):){{}}

  2. We went the other way to you, we started on Crash Course History which led to their other shows. My girls BOTH LOVE IT too ... I confess I have to watch it a couple of times to catch up ... lol And then I need to re-explain some of the puns and jokes, so we re-watch it again. Yes easy to lose an hour or two with those crazy fast talking Americans on it. Don't you love that even though John is an adult his former history teacher is involved with the making of them too ... I found that kinda special.

    1. I feel like I could watch them a few times too - they go too fast for my brain! And I do love that his high school history teacher, who obviously inspired him is the history expert! And I love him giving advice to himself in the past :-)

  3. Glad you got some new stationery fun ;-)
    Your post gave me hope about my son and writing - thanks! My 8 and 10 year olds love Crash Course history too, though of course they're still a BIT young for full appreciation. We watch single episodes relating to what we've been learning about. Funnily enough the first one we watched was about the Mongols (if you've seen a few I'm sure you get why that's funny).
    I'm enjoying reading about what a great start to the new year you guys are making. :-)

    1. The writing thing - I think you just have to be patient! I DO feel like we've made a bit of a good start this year - things are "on track". Except the Mongols...

  4. That's very much how we do history too: read, discuss, write, watch a video. We also do timelines to have a clearer picture of the order of events. It's my favorite subject, so we often spend entire afternoons on it. And we use YouTube a lot. I've seen the Crash Course channel, but am saving it for when he's more your kids' ages. I mostly look for History Channel and BBC documentaries.

    1. We can go so much more in depth than we can at school - maybe that's why I'm enjoying it so much!

  5. This sounds exactly like our days. We are knee deep in Russian history thanks to the girls interest in Anastasia. I can't count how many times we need to pause a movie because of discussion.

    What I also love about homeschooling too. They get time to connect the dots instead of having information crammed in their heads to pass a test. :)

    1. Pausing movies - glad we are the only ones that do that! Yes!!! Dot-connecting!!! Yes!


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