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summer94
01-15-2013, 03:18 AM
Ya, I hate it, I really really do. I hated it during my schooling years, I hate it now. I have never found anything remotely interesting in it. And my mini-me homeschooler is the same, ugh.

I think one thing I hate is to me, it feels like there are a million different subjects, all in random order. As a person with ADD having something that looks scattered like this is mind boggling. Why are learning about civilizations not in any particular order, it makes no sense to me! aaaghhh :explode:

I don't remember much of anything from school about it. I did the minimum I could do to get a C at best. I have no interest in govt, have some interest in ancient civilizations, but only a few of them and I didn't get that interest till I became an adult (except for native american history because I've always felt a huge connection with that part of my own history)

And on top of it, it seems that each state teaches different things at different times and some don't teach everything that others teach. What exactly does it all cover, or should it all cover??

how the hell do you teach something you don't like, to a kid that is completely uninterested in it (oh, we've done the games, video's and stuff too, doesn't help, except for horrible histories videos, he thinks those are hysterical). And on top of that, a kid that's a visual spatial learner who has working memory issues who also (like me) can't even retain info unless is interesting. How do you even test????

Like for instance, we were learning about the Olmec civilization. Why is it important that he knows that this ancient city was the oldest, or this one made rubber and this carved rocks for faces when he has less than zero interest in it? He won't retain it anyway (I'm not talking he'll might retain a teeny bit, it literally will retain ZERO). It seems to be such a big waste of time to go as deep into it as all the curriculum I see. I could be using that to tap into his "mathness" as I call it (kid can make crazy calculations in his head, but can't show me on paper what he did, it's nuts!) and his desire to "build" things he wants to build and do things he wants to do. Don't even get me start on govt. He'd rather look at stone heads lol

I hope to get him into a STEM school here (it's so fabulous!) in the next year or two, they are going to want to test him I'm sure, are they going to test him on this?

Am I over worrying? I'm so frustrated because I can't find any consensus on what is taught and when and how much and etc etc etc ugh I need order! My brain is crazy enough, I don't need help making it more crazy! lolol

Sorry if this is rambling, I'm very tired. haha

mpippin
01-15-2013, 03:37 AM
No one remembers dates in history or anything of little consequence. If you can't make it meaningful, don't do it. That's my philosophy.

Why teach something that bores you both to tears? I'd call the STEM school and ask what to expect from testing. I think that's a legitimate question to ask. If it's not tested, drop it for now.

summer94
01-15-2013, 04:30 AM
Thanks, that's kind of where I'm headed with it. Maybe for govt I'll dig up some old pbs schoolhouse rocks songs or something so he can at least somewhat grasp the branches (although, I barely do also!)

We have a open house parent meeting for the stem school coming up pretty soon, so I'll find out more there. There is a very very small chance he'll get in. It's in a lottery system based on zip code for equal access...but on top of that, we are out of district and have to get a boundary exception, of which they only allow 1-3 students tops out of district. But we're going to try!

dbmamaz
01-15-2013, 09:24 AM
Ok, here's my story. I HATED history. all through school. HATED it.

When i started homeschooling i didnt teach it the first year

but the second year . . . things started getting better.

first of all, i was teaching 2 kids together. but i made a timeline - i made it with excel and cut and pasted, so its just a blank line, all across one room, with dates - one is on the scale of the creation of the universe, and we only put a very few things on that one. next is actually a store-bought evolution timeline, and under that is the 'history' timeline of 1,000 bc to present.

We studied pre-history pretty haphazardly, but its really science, so it was interesting no matter what

for world history, we took the Usborne world history encyclopedia and read a few pages every day, and when we got to a significant time, we might watch a video on netflix or get out a library book. and we would google images and put labels on them and put them up on the timeline, of the significant things we studied. they were fun images - like a pic of galileo and the caption "I throw my telescope in the air sometimes singing ay-oh, i'm Galileo!" and another that said 'Real goths sack rome!"

We ran through world history in 1 year - but it gave us an overview of how it all fits together.

Now US history we are using Hakim, and my teen is supplementing with Zinn's people's history, which is pretty radical stuff. We just read and discuss a little - but its also in chronological order. For me that makes all the difference. if you study it in order, you can see how things grow and change over time and it just makes so much more sense.

good luck with the school

WhatEverWorks
01-15-2013, 07:18 PM
We use the Crash Course videos for history from Youtube. They are informative and hilarious.

I focus on making overall connections, not on memorizing a ton of dates and names. Every day, he adds new dates to the "World's Longest Timeline" - a 100' long roll of paper from Ikea. That helps him connect things going on around the world. He also adds new places to a large map. When we switch to a new era, he starts a fresh map.vhttp://www.nchs.ucla.edu/Standards/world-history-standards

Anyway, he has some reading every day, using an encycolpedia like Cara. We use the one by Kingfisher. We watch all the videos I can find online, netflix or in our own video library. As I said, my biggest concern is that he understands how civilizations can affect others, how ideas and cultures travel, etc. He gets to pick anything from what we study once a month to do a power point research project. That's as close as we get to a test.

It is our favorite time of the day.

Jeni
01-15-2013, 07:43 PM
It sounds like you need a decent curriculum. It shouldn't be that stressful or dull. Ours goes in order. We haven't done government yet but our curriculum is on par with state standards, and above in many cases.

farrarwilliams
01-15-2013, 08:22 PM
Soundbytes first...

1. Yes, social studies in schools is very haphazard, random, and poorly organized.
2. It should either be interest-driven or orderly in a homeschool, IMO.
3. It is highly unlikely that getting into a STEM high school will hinge on whether you studied the Olmecs. So very pared down is probably fine.
4. I have taught social studies, so be aware. ;)

Defense of social studies next...

I do think there are a lot of important skills covered in social studies. To me, the crux of social studies is not actually history, though I love history. I think the essential thing is that it arms you with background about the world that helps you be informed enough to think critically about the world around us. So knowing all this stuff - about how governments work, where things are, how economies work, what has happened before you came along, what's happening now, what your rights are, how you got those rights... To me, those are essential things to know in order to be an intelligent, thinking person in our world. Without enough background, you just can't think critically about the news, about money, etc. You can't be a good citizen.

But how much background do you really need? And what does it have to include? I mean, are the Olmecs, essential? I think, obviously, no, they're not. To me, it's about having a critical level of knowledge. More than needing to know one, single body of knowledge the way that E.D. Hirsch and some of the various classical education theorists advocate, I think you need to know enough to fill your cup, but it can be different things than what I know or what that guy over there knows. We all just need to know enough of this background - about how government works, how economics works, and what happened to make our world.

So I would advocate trying to find a way in. For some kids this is easy - they like projects, they like timelines, they like reading stories. For others, you have to work a little harder - they like math so economics works, they like science so history of inventions works, they like games so coming up with games works.

dbmamaz
01-15-2013, 08:33 PM
oh, that reminds me - in the past i've recommended trying Hakim's Story of Science as a history book for people who love science and hate history (people who fear science find it to be a pretty intimidation science text lol)

49cats
01-16-2013, 12:15 PM
I like farrawilliams' take on the importance of learning the mistakes humans have made over and over so that you can see when those mistakes are being made again---and they are. But I also empathize with you summer94, because I'm one of those math/sciency people and my boys are too. My mother actually lives with us and has taken over history (am I lucky!). She does TONS of documentaries off of free documentary sites and youtube. I think if you find a spine for the chronology, like Usborne or Kingfisher history encyclopedias, or we use A Human Odyssey, published by k12 (three volumes), then just look for documentaries to fit. My boys have recently become madly interested in all the different WW2 planes that were used, being able to identify an increasing number of them by name, nation, and specs. They have started watching dogfight documentaries with their grandpa on the History Channel (he's the only one in our family who's hooked to TV, so they go their for "boys night out"). We've also made placemats by copying pages out of our history encyclopedias and having them laminated. My kids spend could apend hours at the table goofing off, but with the placemats they often quiz eachother on facts on their individual placemats instead of reading the backs of cereal boxes. It's become a game for the whole family when (on occasion) we all sit down to eat together. We take turns coming up with a question for the group off of whatever placemat happens to be in front of us.

But I'm also with the opinion that I can't imagine it would be tested for the STEM school. I second the notion to find that out. If there is no specific requirement--I say approach it casually and keep it fun. We hated history and social studies when we were in the virtual school because of the multiple choice tests and essays---bleeaauuk. Now the boys love it (and I do admit all credit goes to their grandparents).

laundrycrisis
01-16-2013, 12:59 PM
I also do not like at all the way social studies in schools and the Core Knowledge program jumps around all over the place - I'm extremely linear and I just can't stand that.

I've learned to feel better about the whole thing by breaking it into separate subjects and thinking about those in a linear way, before I take on teaching them.

We are doing world history chronologically with very simple materials.
US History is a subtopic of this. It must fit in chronologically.
Geography is a separate subject. I separate it into political and physical.
All cultural topics are a separate subject, that can of course link to geography and history.
Government and political science is a separate subject. US Civics is a subtopic of this.
Economics is a separate subject.

Keeping these all in separate outlines in my mind is the only way I can not feel completely overwhelmed by this entire subject area.

summer94
01-16-2013, 03:46 PM
I also do not like at all the way social studies in schools and the Core Knowledge program jumps around all over the place - I'm extremely linear and I just can't stand that.

I've learned to feel better about the whole thing by breaking it into separate subjects and thinking about those in a linear way, before I take on teaching them.

We are doing world history chronologically with very simple materials.
US History is a subtopic of this. It must fit in chronologically.
Geography is a separate subject. I separate it into political and physical.
All cultural topics are a separate subject, that can of course link to geography and history.
Government and political science is a separate subject. US Civics is a subtopic of this.
Economics is a separate subject.

Keeping these all in separate outlines in my mind is the only way I can not feel completely overwhelmed by this entire subject area.

YES! This is how I feel it should be taught! I don't understand teaching physical geography right along with govt etc. Just doesn't make sense to me. I often wondered why it's all lumped together like that.

I think this is the way I'm going. I'm just going to start right now at the beginning of everything and then start separating it out once we get to humans and culture. Just makes it more understandable to us I think. I also think that I'll just touch on culture subjects and let him lead. If he shows more interest, we'll hang on that for a bit, if no interest, just move the next!

Thanks everyone!

farrarwilliams
01-16-2013, 04:11 PM
YES! This is how I feel it should be taught! I don't understand teaching physical geography right along with govt etc. Just doesn't make sense to me. I often wondered why it's all lumped together like that.


I think there are a number of ways that it can be organized that make sense. Separating it out like that is one excellent way. But another is combining all the aspects as you go through history or as you move geographically in an orderly fashion. The problem is that I've never seen a public school program that did it any way that makes sense. They all jump around.

quabbin
01-16-2013, 08:24 PM
Yeah, I remember almost no social studies from school. Not geography--I am not 100% sure I could get all the US states right on a map, let alone, say, all the countries in Africa (Can you tell I haven't traveled much?). Not history--can't put ancient Greece on a timeline (500 BC? 1500 BC?). Not much government. Hardly any economics. Because it was not presented in an interesting, logical way.
So here's the plan for DS:
Kindergarten: Geography. Memorize now, ask questions later. He likes maps.
1st through 7th or 8 grade: World history, in order, twice (a la Story of the World, but not necessarily using that), with emphasis on biography, technology, and the rights and standards of living of ordinary people, using a big timeline.
8th grade: Law/civics plus current events.
9th and up: TBA. He may enroll in a school at that time.

I would say in your case, do a Cliffs Notes type overview of world history and then let him pick what he's interested in. A few Ken Burns documentaries and/or David McCullough books might do a lot more good than dragging through everything that ever happened anywhere. Social studies is rarely tested anywhere, by anyone; if he can read maps and charts and make inferences, he'll be fine even if the STEM school does happen to care.

WhatEverWorks
01-17-2013, 10:01 AM
Just my opinion:

It completely makes sense to me to include geography as a part of history. Geography determines who gets nice sea ports, has farmlands to feed its population, and has natural boundaries, better water supplies and desired natural resources. It all contributes to that country’s interaction with the world, especially before the technology age. Those interactions are further influenced by proximity and ease of travel between and inside different countries.

I am using social studies to help my son learn to draw conclusion and see bigger pictures, so studying geography along with a region’s history works for us.

belacqua
01-17-2013, 02:50 PM
Part of my problem is so shallow...I just hate the term "social studies." It sounds so weak and flabby (and let's not get me started on "Language Arts"). I'm all for history, political science, geography, and economics. But social studies just sounds like we're sitting around discussing feelings and Our Friend the Fireman and some kind of self-absorbed Where Do I, Personally, Fit Into the Historical Context.

CrazyCatWoman
01-22-2013, 11:52 PM
We don't do social studies either. We do history, and I like it to go in a logical progressive order.

You say that your son likes architecture? How about focus on building styles throughout history. Then throw in a little bit of history to go with it.

For example, Gothic Churches. Build a model. Find out why the churches were important, what role they played in the community, and who was allowed to build them. Then move on to the next time period and pick an important style from there. Or, look at the same time period in say, Japan or China. Look at important buildings (Forbidden Palace in China say - may not be quiet the same time period - I am not checking right now) and see why they were built, who used them etc.

If you go through history this way, I suspect that if the STEM class asks anything about history - his knowledge of actual STEM related stuff will wow them. Knowing the STEM classes near me, I suspect they won't ask.

Me, I feel that history is more relevant if it relates to something I am interested, like art or music. Your son may be the same way - and at worst, he will have some hands on building of things that can remind him of the time period.

CrazyCatWoman
01-22-2013, 11:53 PM
And, if he has gaps, (as ALL students will - we never finished a book in high school!) he can learn it if and when he needs it later.

LillyMunster
01-23-2013, 12:49 PM
All the comments have been really useful. The daughter is currently doing 7th grade social studies via Learning Odyssey and she finds it really boring. Looking at the outline I found it really boring. It seems to focus heavily on random events and the dates rather than a full context of history and events. So I am looking at just doing something ourselves that makes more sense and so we can use things like maps or other materials. In our state we have to have the kids take the state standardized tests via the district every few years so I am struggling between doing something that is really meaningful and establishes a sound understanding of the world vs. making sure she can pass these stupid state tests.

dbmamaz
01-23-2013, 02:18 PM
you have to take state tests which include history content, as a homeschooler? ugg that sounds awful!

LillyMunster
01-23-2013, 10:31 PM
you have to take state tests which include history content, as a homeschooler? ugg that sounds awful!

Yes. They have very lax rules here compared to some states in that they don't expect any qualifications or documentation but they still have to take the "state tests", the next one coming up when she is completing 8th grade. They don't seem to have any rule about when that is if your not following a strict school year type system. They do have those who home school take an SAT alternative test instead of the one the public enrolled kids take. I haven't dug deeply into the content of the test since we were following the virtual school program. I think I would rather have more rules on my proving she was learning things than standardized tests.

LaurieC
06-09-2015, 10:27 PM
So I just caught an episode of "are you smarter than a fifth grader" and one of the questions was " on what denomination of bill is the treasury building on the back? Say what? Where is this covered in your lessons? I admit I am freaking out if that is the type of stuff I am to teach. I hope to follow a secular Charlotte mason style. I remember the schoolhouse rock videos and would like to use those but where to start? I have a four year history rotation but not sure how to fit this type of stuff in.

Mariam
06-09-2015, 10:55 PM
Laurie, I wouldn't worry about the trivia. There is no real need for that kind of stuff, unless you are interested in esoteric knowledge. If you have a plan, just continue with it until it is not working for your or your kids.

darkelf
06-10-2015, 03:15 AM
So I just caught an episode of "are you smarter than a fifth grader" and one of the questions was " on what denomination of bill is the treasury building on the back? Say what? Where is this covered in your lessons? I admit I am freaking out if that is the type of stuff I am to teach. I hope to follow a secular Charlotte mason style. I remember the schoolhouse rock videos and would like to use those but where to start? I have a four year history rotation but not sure how to fit this type of stuff in.

So that would be the 10 dollar bill. It is the bill with Alexander Hamilton, the only non-president on a a bill. (The dollar coins have had nonpresidents too.) He was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel.

Yep, I know this type of thing. And honestly unless I'm playing a trivia game, it is useless.

It sounds like you need a history curriculum. Something like Pandia Press, or the Human Odyessy (really, really good textbook BTW)

aspiecat
06-10-2015, 10:24 AM
Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader doesn't actually test fifth-grade kids on knowledge attained through regular-school education. They are given all the things to learn specifically for the TV show prior to the audition, and simply memorise the questions and answers they will be given. The kids who memorise best are the ones who get on the show. That's how most shows of this kind are run, which happens to be similar to how many kids in regular school pass so well - teachers giving them test papers to take home and learn so they will have good test scores at the end of each nine-week period. If you took even the brightest kids from any fifth-grade class, they'd not do very well in this show.

Now back to the OP...

I find it amazing the US education system calls Social Studies...well, exactly that! It's only History, with Geography and Economics being completely ignored. DS, when trying the local high school out for nine weeks at the beginning of semester 2 last year, was shocked that the latter two subjects were not taught. DH and my in-laws quickly set us right about that - they informed us that Geography and Economics are not generally taught at ALL in America, apart from some fleeting lessons on a few countries in elementary school. The kids DS befriended said they'd never had a proper Geography lesson, and knew little about most of the world outside of the US, and as for Economics - they assumed that was a subject that some business majors did at college.

No wonder so many people don't like Social Studies! If it's only History, and focuses mostly on American History, then how is it going to be interesting in the slightest? DS liked History to an extent - more into political history than anything else - but really liked Geography and LOVED Economics. When at school in Australia, all three legs of SS were studied, and when he was homeschooled, I included all of them as well, because we consider that Social Studies. Just History? DS would've DIED of boredom.

My suggestion for ANY homeschooling family trying to beef up the interest-level in Social Studies is to realise it's MORE than just History outside of the US. And whoever said that when homeschooling you have to follow the exact curriculum according to one's country? We HS parents always put in subjects that are not taught in regular schools, don't we? It's hugely important to think of Social Studies is more than learning dates and remembering battles and Presidents - it's looking at the overall development of our entire world over a hugely long period of time - and how can we learn ANYthing historical without adding in the geographical and economical aspects?

Things like Bill Gates' The Big History Project includes Science and Geography, which is great. I can't think of any other curricula that includes all three parts of SS, but it is actually easy enough to use Geography as the base and put bits of History and Economics in the mix, which is how I approached Social Studies with DS.

HawaiiGeek
06-10-2015, 11:53 AM
I had a semester of economics in high school. It was required for graduation. Now I graduated in 88, so don't know if that is still being done, but it was separated from regular "social studies". My DS6 who just finished 1st grade had a whole section of economics in social studies about wants and needs. It was actually a decent unit (one of few).

LaurieC
06-10-2015, 06:14 PM
I love the thoughts. I do have geography planned and have bits of economics, though I may look in deeper.

aspiecat
06-10-2015, 07:36 PM
The thing with Social Studies is that it actually is SO much more than merely History. In high school, unless there's a forward-thinking curriculum in place, Economics and Geography are seen as non-issues. Some elementary schools may well have some of these two subjects touched on, but they both ought to be CORE subjects every single year, to be honest. Economics can cover topics such as personal finance and good vs bad credit, not just micro-economics and macro-economics, and is entirely useful. Geography is needed every year as it is a huge part of modern politics and understanding our place in the world.

Why the American education system doesn't see this, I just cannot understand. Maybe part of the current "keep 'em dumb" plan? I mean, it's no wonder regular school kids have an average of 50% proficiency overall, whereas homeschoolers have an average of 85%...

LaurieC
06-10-2015, 07:49 PM
I would be curious what economics you all did with your elementary age kids.

crunchynerd
07-21-2015, 08:51 PM
I share some of your angst, at least, in terms of repressing the need to snort sometimes about the whole idea of "social studies". I don't even know what, exactly, that is supposed to mean, except removing solid time-honored subjects with clear goals, such as History, Geography, and Civics, and replacing them with this catch-all mashup with a lot of "what opinions you're supposed to hold" inserted in.

At least, that is how it seemed to me in school, and I agree with your assessment that it seemed haphazard and somewhat random, and made it impossible to tell what we had actually learned when I looked back, because it wasn't sequential, nothing seemed to lead to anything else, and rather than helping me make sense of history and world countries and conflicts and how nations are run, it seemed to make nothing make sense at all, except a vague sense that the world is going to heck in a handbasket, and it's because there are too many people, and particularly because America stinks...but also, Be Patriotic!

You could just reject the blanket term "social studies" and all its ambiguity, and replace it with the crisp clear outlines of Geography, History, and Civics, studied at the City, State, and National, and World level, each. Or you could study the other way around: your city and its history, geography, and government (and the role of citizens....in other words, civics), then your state and its history, geography, and government, then your country and its history, geography, and government, and finally, world history, geography, and a comparison of world governments.

Maybe they did try that approach somewhere in there when I was growing up, but if there was any rhyme or reason to it, I couldn't tell. I do remember learning songs about the Titanic and having to trudge through seemingly endless reading on the Oregon Trail, and that Sumerians and Mesopotamia were the "cradle of civilization" and something about papyrus. When I look at all that as a homeschooling mom, I wonder why the subjects of history, geography, and civics have to be smashed together into such a vague tangle as "social studies" but there must have been a reason.