Sunday, March 05, 2006

History outline

Last week I had a low grade flu and a high grade depression. I've had recurring bouts of chronic depression and PTSD since I was three years old. Nowadays the depression is no longer associated with my abusive childhood, but it's a wornout coping mechanism I haven't fully unplugged. It turns up whenever I get distracted.

When I'm depressed I pick a task to get completely absorbed in and work on it to the exclusion of most everything else, hence the proverbs and Latin worksheets. The other big project has been making a history outline.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the WTM method, World History forms the core of the curriculum, with everything else tied to it. You cover World History four times in four-year chunks. How you cover the material changes as the child's mind matures. Grades 1 - 4 are the "Wow, what neat stories!" years, Grades 5 - 8 are the "How did this happen?" years, and Grades 9 - 12 are the "Why did this happen?" years.

We've been doing "Wow!" history for nine months now, and I think I've got a feel for how it's going to do now. I sat down our first four-year history book, the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History and a stack of notebook paper. On the far left I made a column for the different sections, in the middle a column for "Activities" and on the far right a column for "Literature". I wrote down the names of all the lessons in the book, leaving a space between each one, then began scrounging around to see what I had that could go in the "Activities" and "Literature" columns for those rows. It took eleven pages and three hours. (I didn't make a spreadsheet. It wasn't my turn on the computer, I didn't want the job to take three days, and I like having access to it when the computer isn't available.) Now I have an idea of what activities and stories we'll need to go with what lessons. I can also see what holes I need to fill in.

One thing I deliberately left off was deadlines. I resent the element of pressure that brings into the equation. There are people who thrive under that sort of pressure, but I prefer not to add any more than life is already throwing at me.

Is this the final form our history lessons will take for the next four years? No. It's a road map, and it will doubtless turn out to be incomplete. I may even abandon it completely later on. But for now it gives me some idea of which way we're going to go.


Pat Mathews said...

I was overjoyed to read that you coped with depression by diving headfirst into work. I taught myself that after leaving home in the 1990s, and it is such an excellent corrective! Much better than pills. Plus, of course, seeing the end results is also a major spirit-lifter.

Lioness said...

Thank you. Honesty compells me to admit I also got pills, although in my case this was remembering to replace my bottle of cod liver oil gel-caps. "Don't leave summer without it!"

It's the blasted maintenance that trips me up.

RedMolly said...

Thanks for the outlining information! You're a great resource for a newbie like me.