Friday, October 19, 2007

history at the science museum

The kids had school off yesterday and today for MEA, so we went yesterday to see the Pompeii exhibit. It was fascinating and I especially liked the audioguide's kid tracks. Bernie listened to every one! It really made the exhibit come to life for the kids. There were wall-sized frescoes, gold coins, jewelry, and marble and bronze statuary. There was an animated video that showed aspects of daily life in Pompeii. There was a room with religious artifacts. There was another with information on Pompeian cuisine and artifacts from kitchens and bakeries. Did you know that most people who cooked in their homes had slaves who did it all for them? Those who couldn't afford slaves didn't have kitchens. They ate out at one of the 300 fast food joints in Pompeii.

As I observed my children and their great interest in the exhibit, I found myself inwardly steaming about the lousy lack of history in their schools. In the Spanish immersion program they study different Spanish-speaking countries in grades K-4. I think other kids in regular public school here study various countries. In 5th and 6th Georgie had U.S. History. That was good. She learned a lot. But now, in 7th grade, it is incredibly lame geography. It's all memorization of maps. Grr! In 7th grade I studied the Ancients. Granted, I had an extremely weird teacher, but I still remember things I learned about Greece and Rome from that class.

I think it's great to learn about other countries. But why can't they learn world history, too? Is it just not important to us anymore? On NPR several times now I've heard experts on the current situation in the Middle East say that Americans have a woeful lack of understanding of the history of that region. When are we going to realize that our children should be learning world history? K12, the curriculum that Lidia is using through the virtual academy this year, starts world history in first grade. They study world history for four years and then do U.S. history for 5th and 6th. For 7th and 8th it's world history again. Not only that but they study art history as a separate subject and it corresponds with the period in history they are studying.


Cocoa said...

I really like how K12 does their history and correlates it with their art.

I wish we had cool museums like that to visit. Instead we get to watch cows poop. So fun.

Calandria said...

Cocoa, how do your kids like K12's Literature lessons? Lidia doesn't like them much, except for the novel units.

And from what I see on your blog I think you do a few things besides watching cows poop. :-) Recently I've been craving to be in the middle of nowhere. I've been asking myself if I'm city or country. I think I'm both, so that must mean I need a country home for the summer and city for the school year. Problem solved! ;-)

athena said...

francoise is studying ancient rome right now for history. she is amazed at how little the students know. on another note they had a slide film on pompeii just this week. there was a part in there about some of the artwork (pornographic) and the teacher had to skip that part in the film. the students questioned why he skipped it and francoise answered them. she saw the artwork while in pompeii. the french definitely do not censor anything. ;)

that's one thing i don't like about the schools here--the curriculum. but at least the teachers are pretty good here.

Calandria said...

i've heard there is a lot of pornographic roman art--even on the buildings. things sticking out all over the place.

georgie really likes her teachers. actually, i have only had positive experiences with teachers here in minnesota, something that always surprises me considering some of the awful teachers i had in school! yup. if they would only change the curriculum.

Cocoa said...

Eve zips through the literature. So much so that she misreads many of her assignments and does more than asked. :D She was supposed to choose a novel and take about two weeks reading it. She did it in a day. Marie tolerates her literature. It's not her favorite subject but definitely not her worst either.

Mama Ava said...

Take heart. Georgie's school does the physical geography (alot of which was taught in science at my school) but the nest year they do human geography. The idea is that the physical geography plays a role in the political, economic, and social situations and decisions that are made in the world. Teachers usually spend a good chunk of time on Africa. Mark did most of his on the role of women in development in Africa as well as some looking at issues in Central America. What I always liked at her school was that teachers were allowed to tailor the scope and sequence to what teachers are interested/skilled at. It doesn't often come out of textbooks.

Living here in TZ, where so much development work goes on and where you hear people always saying "Why don't they just..." it's amazing how much work is affected by the physical conditions of the land here, whether it's water, soil type, volcanic activity, climate, etc.

Calandria said...

thank you for your comment, Mama Ava. It does make me "take heart." :-)

If you had a child at G's school, do you think you would prefer the social studies curriculum as is or would you like it more K12 style?