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 Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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 Continue reading

preparing to teach a class exploring world history through pirates

I haven’t been blogging much recently, because my free time has gone into preparing the course I’ll be teaching in January for the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. Today I want to write a bit about what that preparation looks like. The main thing I’m doing is reading, reading, and yet more reading. I’m reading books that are directly about pirates, but I’m also reading books that are just about the history of the time. Some of the books are popular nonfiction, some are academic. With each book I’m taking detailed notes, and combining the notes together. Today I had the fun Continue reading

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 Continue reading

Pirate Course, dead ahead.

It is official. I will be teaching another course through the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. Hurray! This course is about exploring world history through pirates stories. We’ll be talking about a whole roster of pirates but also about the nations that created and/or fought with them. Reading about pirates has been amazingly fun. Every book I read I go back through my notes adding more notes, and it adds another layer of color and depth. I practice telling the stories to my children. I find myself constantly brainstorm questions we can discuss about the material. My course outline will list off Continue reading

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 Continue reading

Learning about the Borgia family – for fans of Horrible Histories

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

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 Continue reading

planning history curriculum based on pirates

a collection of books about pirates or tangentally related to 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 Continue reading

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. Continue reading