• This picture shows a Minecraft village built in the style of Catal Hoyuk
    history,  homeschooling,  politics,  religion

    Searching for Justice and Equality in Ancient Times

    One of the classes I’m teaching these days is a secular Bible study class. I treat the Bible like a work of literature. We discuss the different historical periods and the theologies within the Bible, but I’m not trying to convert them. I use the textbooks I had from university to help me, but simplifying stuff for children. I’m having wonderful fun with the class. Then on a different day of the week I teach an ancient history class that is looking more at other ancient cultures of the Middle East. So from this study of ancient times, what fascinates me is the frequency in which the different texts and…

  • history,  politics,  religion,  the ethical life

    Nellie McClung and the challenge of history

    Up until a few weeks ago, if I was asked my impression of Nellie McClung I probably would have said “oh, she was that suffragette, right? The one people say was racist and supported eugenics?” I started reading about Nellie McClung this past few weeks. I’ll still a newcomer to McClung’s story and I’ve already read bits that do suggest the darker parts of her beliefs. But what has amazed me is realizing how beautiful some of her thoughts and ideas were too. She wrote novels that promoted the idea that we are all called to serve community, love one another and by doing so to change the world. She…

  • activism,  history,  politics,  the ethical life

    Optimism vs Hope

    I’m thinking about the difference between optimism and hope. One can be optimistic because one believes things will go well. In some cases optimism is good and natural. However optimism can also be due to a lack of information about the potential problems or because one deliberately rejects the facts that disagrees with one. Therefore optimism itself is not a virtue. We should not be trying to “choose optimism” when the situation does not warrant it. I picture NASA scientists preparing for a rocket launch. We want them to be optimistic because all the tests, models and simulations suggest they will be suc…cessful. We would not want them to “choose optimism”…

  • history,  politics

    reading 18th century history, reflecting on today

    I’ve been reading about various wars in North America during the 1700s. Several things stand out to me. One is the idea that the governments were not able to control their people. Native elders were not able to prevent individual or small groups of native warriors from going off and killing colonists, and the colonists were unable to prevent individuals from going off and killing natives. The acts of individuals were then used to justify the acts of more individuals and of governments. The second thing is that the elites were manipulating everyone into war. Before the American Revolution, the different colonies were fighting over which would control “the west”…

  • history

    Canadian pioneer poems

    The Canadian Homeschool Blog hop this month is on the theme of Canadian books and resources. Over my couple of years of blogging I’ve listed a few Canadian books, such as Melanie Bluelake’s Dream, Caribou Songs, Shannen’s Dream for a School and a collection of books about Northern Canada. Today I want to write about a poetry book, called Reading Between the Lines: Piecing together the life of Elizabeth Boyd McDougall by Shirley A Serviss. Elizabeth Boyd McDougall was the second wife of John McDougall, a Methodist missionary in the prairies. The poems start with her journeying out to the west with her new husband, preparing to meet his children, learning to prepare…

  • history,  homeschooling,  movies

    a Cinderella story, Ever After, and the history of some French royalty

    A few days ago my kids and I watched the movie Ever After, with Drew Barrymore. It was interesting. It is a Cinderella story, rewritten to take out any mention of magic and referring to Cinderella as Danielle. Its primary focus is on folktale and not history and yet the movie includes a few tantalizing little details meant to try to suggest that the story could be historical. The story features Leonardo Da Vinci. It also identifies the king as Francis and the son as Henry, and the kingdom as France. Since Francis I of France did invite Leonardo Da Vinci to his kingdom, and he had a son named…

  • history,  homeschooling,  how do we know what we know is true

    continuing my homeschooling discussion of the Renaissance

    The Borgia family gives a “human face” to talking about the power balances. However reading about them in isolation of other Renaissance rulers can make them seem like some sort of anomaly: unethical, power hungry people in a world of decent citizens. In order to broaden my kids understanding of the topic and because my oldest needs a bit of practice in using workbooks I’m having them go through a workbook Renaissance by Patrick Hotle. I’m also sharing with my kids stories I read about other Renaissance families. Caterina Sforza has a particularly fascinating story. Her first husband was Pope Sixtus IV’s nephew Girolamo Riario. Financed by wealthy relatives and…

  • Brogia Family - portraits as well as a picture from the Horrible Histories Borgia Family song.
    history

    Learning about the Borgia family – for fans of Horrible Histories

    We enjoy watching Horrible Histories, and sometimes I use episodes as the basis of a history lesson. Here are some of my notes (and at the bottom, a list of resources, including a link to related math worksheets): Watch the vignette on Pope Alexander VI on Horrible Histories (season 4, episode 9) and the song Borgia Family in the same episode. Note that Alexander VI is the name Rodrigo Borgia took on when he took his position as Pope. Giovanne was murdered, possible by his brother Cesare. Note how the video deals with that possibility. Label map of Italy. Locate Siena. While Rodrigo Borgias was a Cardinal there, the pope…

  • a collection of books about pirates or tangentally related to pirates
    history,  homeschooling

    planning history curriculum based on pirates

    I am planning my history curriculum for my kids this year. We are going to focus on world history from the starting point of learning about pirates.  What were the different eras of pirates? How did pirates relate with the various nations? What economic or social situations helped encourage piracy? Reading about the topic got a bit overwhelming for me, as I wanted to know enough to pull everything together and fill in all the details between different periods of piracy. I’ve decided to make it easier for myself and use the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia as my basic text and then branch out from there. Talking about piracy will help…

  • books,  history,  homeschooling,  science

    Lesson ideas using Superman comics

    As a kid I enjoyed watching Lois and Clark, or at least the first two seasons of it, but I never actually read any Superman comics. It’s only been recently with my kids interested in superheroes that I’ve started to learn more about them. At first I was thrown by the discontinuity of the stories. I tried to link things together looking for a big storyline, until I suddenly realized that like Archie comics, there isn’t one. There are story lines, but not one big single one. Suddenly I could start looking at the different stories for what they are. In the earlier Superman comics the little stories were similar…