Saturday, July 28, 2007

Story of the World

Well, I managed to get a copy of the audio book version of this series and we listened to the first CD this week. I was well aware that this had a heavy christian slant so before starting, Catherine and I talked about history. We talked about how there are objective facts like dates and how there's interpretation of the meaning of events marked by those dates. There are fancy German names for both concepts courtesy of Wolfhart Pannenberg but bugger all if I can remember them. We also talked about myth and how, despite there being no facts involved, they can tell us a lot about the people who told those myths. On to the Story of The World.

It was really interesting. Catherine drew as I cleaned and when she had a question we'd pause the CD and talk a bit. When we got to 'Abraham and God' and 'Joseph' I'd make it clear that we were now firmly into mythical (possibly legendary) territory. It got interesting when we learned that the story of King Sargon of Akkad involved him being floated down a river to be found by a royal servent. Echoes of Moses anyone? So Christian myth gets presented as history but the threads that built the myths are still in there for listeners to ferret out.

I know there are workbooks availible but frankly, we'll have enough workbooks and worksheets when we start up some curricullum. Catherine picks stuff up easily enough when she's interested and worksheets often seem like busy work. To supplement I'll see what we can explore on the internet and look for some documentaries on early civilizations.

The Story of the World seems like it's going to be a nice resource so far. One you really need to approach with a little scepticism and the tools to question and research what it claims but that's really not a bad thing at all. I think it's probably good to introduce some materials that you intend to challenge so your kids can see that just because it's in a book doesn't mean you need to accept it all without question.


Crimson Wife said...

SOTW a "heavy Christian slant"? Are you using the same program we are? It is a *very* secular program, with only 1 chapter on the Hebrews and 1 chapter on Jesus, both written from a historical rather than a religious viewpoint. Judaism & Christianity are given no special emphasis over other religions such as Confucianism, Buddhism, or Hinduism. We've had to add a *lot* of outside resources to Christianize the program.

Dawn said...

It presents biblical events as historical. In my mind, once it presents events that have little to no support outside the bible as historical then it's taken on a heavy christian slant.

It probably depends a lot on where you're standing. If you come from a conservative christian tradition it may seem very secular. If you come from a secular or liberal christian background, it will seem very christian.

Dawn said...

I should add that while SOTW does give equal time to other religions and beliefs it makes it quite clear that THOSE are myths, legends, fairy tales and stories. Something it doesn't do with bible stories.

I still love this resource however. :)

kat said...

It IS written by a Protestant college professor.

As Catholic homeschoolers we have to add commentary and explain how "it didn't exactly happen that way" beginning around the 2nd volume. We are currently reading aloud the 3rd volume to our 7&9 year olds and they are eager listeners.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

N. is too old for SOTW, but I like to hear about the resources.

Whenever we come to stories from the Hebrew Scriptures in sources, we have to go to the original (in Hebrew, of course) because the Christian interpretation is often very different than the Jewish Midrash and Talmudic commentaries. We also have had to discuss with N. that the Israelite religion is non-western and very different in outlook than Rabbinic Judaism, which we practice today.

I like that the Sargon II story is presented. When we did ancient history last year, we started by looking at creation myths and old myths from various parts of the world, and when we dealt with the semitic myths, we discussed the similarities and differences with the ancient stories in Torah. We also talked about the purposes of myth, and asked ourselves why a certain story was told the way it was. What were the tellers/writers trying to convey about the value of creation? About human beings? This was an introduction to comparative religion and comparative literature. And it got N. thinking about how we look at the text vs. how the people who actually told the stories might have thought about them.

Lots of rich learning there!

Dawn said...

Elisheva - I think I'm shooting for something of the approach you already have and you're having the conversations with your child I can't wait to have with mine. :)