Saturday, November 5, 2011

Why is our home schooling program so Western? Part I

Currently, my daughter is reading Greco-Roman history, Greek myths, Bible stories, Lives of Saints, Aesop's fables, and American and British children's novels; she's learning French; she's playing and listening to Western European classical music on Western European classical instruments.

With home schooling you have the lattitude to include anything you want, and, in particular, to fill any gaps that your child would otherwise experience in the public education system. So why have we chosen such a Western, Eurocentric curriculum when we could be drawing from all over the world?

On closer inspection, our curriculum isn't as Eurocentric as it first appears. Our history source, for example, is The Story of the World. Before we got to the Greeks and Romans we spent time with the ancient civilizations of Egypt, the Middle East, China, India, and the Phoenicians. Later we encountered the Persians and the Carthaginians and, later still, Byzantium. I myself have learned more about early South America and early sub-Saharan Africa from The Story of the World than I have from any public school textbook. As for our classic tales, we'll soon be moving Eastwards to the Arabian Nights.

My daughter has moved eastwards in music as well. In addition to Bach and Beethoven, she is also playing Kabalevsky. The math she does is decidedly Singaporean. The animals she's learned about (our 4th and 5th grade home school science has been largly zoology) hail from all over the globe.

To be fair, though, most of the humanities topics we cover do fall into that much-maligned Western canon. So I'd better have good reasons for choosing this route. Stay tuned for Part II...


Happy Elf Mom said...

We are using Story of the World as well! We have finished Ancient Times and are moving into the Middle Ages.

I choose curriculum that is conservative, Western and Christian because I hope to raise conservative, Western and Christian children. Just that simple.

I hope you don't feel you ever need to justify your choices to anyone, though of course I would be interested to hear how you select a given curriculum or resource. I would just never want you to feel that you need to be defensive or somehow accomodate what ANYBODY ELSE thinks. God bless. :)

bky said...

I am a liberal agnostic who uses the Story of the World (plus EH Gombrich's A Little History of the World) because it is about the only real history curriculum for young kids.

Cynthia said...

Who is the author/publisher of Story of the World? It sounds good, but I would hate to get the wrong one.

ChemProf said...

Story of the World (which is in four volumes) is by Susan Wise Bauer, published by Peace Hill Press.

Katharine Beals said...

Chemprof, thanks for providing the info about Story of the World. I've also added an Amazon link to the post.
bky, thanks for mentioning Gombrich, which I've added to my homeschooling list.
Happy Elf Mom, Thanks for your sentiments. I'm being somewhat tongue-in-cheek by saying I'd better have pretty good reasons. However, I do think there are some compelling arguments that have nothing to do specific cultural/religious goals, and everything to do with academic/cognitive goals. I'll bring these up in my next post(s).

TerriW said...

The question that titles this post does amuse me somewhat. My kids are 7 & 5, we homeschool, and we've done just as much world history as we have American history, my kids take Chinese, etc, etc ... but, well, our culture that we live in, the one that they are steeped in, it *is* western. I want them to understand it as best as they can, not just as it is now, but how it came to be. Because it is the culture of their day to day life.

So, yeah, we spend quite a bit of time on the "Dead White Guys." Why wouldn't we?