7/17/02 Liesa, homeschool teacher of 7th grade student
I find your history very appealing. I am a homeschool teacher, and my son will be in the 7th grade level. Is your time period of history appropriate for his grade level? And do you have any specific curriculum for this level?
7/27/02 studentsfriend.com reply
Curricula vary widely among school districts across the country, so I'm not sure what would be appropriate curricula for 7th grade in your area. You might want to check with local schools to learn what they cover at secondary grade levels. I think it is a good idea for homeschool students to stay somewhat consistent with the subjects taught in local schools. In my experience, home school students sometimes return to public school in the later grades when the subject matter becomes more advanced and specialized.
My small rural school district teaches world geography and history at the 6th and 7th grade levels and again at the 9th and 10th grade levels. In middle school, teachers focus more on particular time periods and cultures with a strong geography emphasis, while in high school the culminating courses provide a comprehensive overview of world history and geography (putting all the pieces together) with an emphasis on history.
I don't have any materials specifically designed for 7th grade. It is possible you could use the Student's Friend with a 7th grade student. The text is written at a more advanced level than middle school, but in a one-on-one teaching situation, you could probably check for understanding and explain concepts that might be a bit advanced for a 7th grader. Or you could skip some sections. It's not mandatory that a 7th grader learn about Hegel's dialectic, for example.
6/26/02 JoAnn, university instructor
7/27/02 studentsfriend.com reply
I think there may be good college texts out there, but I don't know what they are. I recently reread a text I studied in college and was impressed with it...but it has been replaced with later versions which seem to be bigger, which is not necessarily better. The two-volume text is called "World Civilizations" by Burns and Rath. Now it is Burns, Rath and four additional authors.
You might wish to consider the words of college professor (and noted education theorist and author) Peter N. Stearns who wrote:
Stearns thinks we should spend less time trying to cover volumes of factual material and more time analyzing historical developments. If you accept Stearns's view, textbooks may be too inclusive to be very useful, which is precisely my view of high school texts, which is why I developed the Student's Friend . Although the SF if relatively brief, it provides a coherent overview of world history and geography. (Are you teaching the subjects together or as separate courses?) Stearns's quote is taken from the Chronological Narrative section of the SF website that deals with textbooks and historical content. It might be worth a look.
If you accept Stearns's view, you might consider using the SF in your course to provide a comprehensive overview in a digestible and concise manner, which would leave more time to assign other readings and activities that could focus on specific historical issues and give you an opportunity to engage in historical analysis activities. The SF provides the basic overview; your class can be as challenging as you want to make it depending on the ancillary activities you choose to further enhance the student's historical understanding.
A very good overview of the nature of history and historical analysis including activities for college students is The Methods and Skills of History by Furay & Salevouris, which is available through the studentsfriend store. Also useful might be the Thinking Strategies section of the SF website.
Although the SF is written for an audience of 9th and 10th graders, I doubt if your students would find it insulting. It includes some content that is clearly college-level such as social Darwinism, Hegel's dialectic, Marx's dialectical materialism, Spencer's organic view of history, etc.
Best wishes in your new endeavor, and let me know how it goes.