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 flesh out some of the parts of that book which are really not detailed enough, like looking at the interactions between “the old world” and “the new,” as well as between the different social economic classes.
A friend loaned me her copy of History Odyssey, a homeschooling curriculum by Kathleen Johnson that uses the same book as well as some supplementary books. Looking at it has helped me to start thinking in terms of single-day-activities and how to teach kids to take notes. It has given me some ideas, but it doesn’t help with filling in any of the gaps I see in the Kingfisher. It doesn’t seem to add context and make the connections I want the kids to be able to make. So I’m writing my own plans, and I love doing that, because the process of writing out my plans helps me distill what it is I want the kids to learn.
So with that in mind, I throw myself into reading. I read, and read and take more notes. I’m less likely to be overwhelmed by information when I know what I need. I need specific ideas and details to share with my children, and I can record those details right into the beautiful computer file that is my plans.
I want to find the right excerpts of books like Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia to share with my kids, and to connect that with a few lines of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I’d like to be able to share with them bits from Locke’s writings about who should own the new world. I’d like to discuss Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island. To me all of this is related. It all touches on questions of property, ownership, ideal society, work and rules.
In the back of my head, I wonder if I be able to take the information about pirates and find a way to make that into a course I could offer through the gifted homeschooling forum online courses? (I’m teaching a math class there this semester – there’s still room in the second session if anyone wants to sign up.) Or perhaps I could try to make a pdf file out of my notes, a sort of guide to teaching pirates and world history? Would anyone be interested in world history through the stories of pirates? I’ll definitely be blogging bits about this.