29 October 2009

A Notebook for History

Whereas there is nothing quite so likely to make me feel half-educated as reading The Well-Trained Mind (TWTM), and Whereas I have never actually studied world history in either High School or College, I Am Resolved to begin the process of remedying my own ignorance by studying World History.

Additionally, it strikes me as useful to know something about history in prior to teaching it. Now seems like a good time to do something with this project because I know that it's going to be a very long, slow project.

I began by setting up a binder. First I made it pretty. Because pretty is important. Then I put tabbed dividers into it and labeled them the way that TWTM suggests for the logic stage. I chose the logic stage because it seemed like that's where most of my education would have fit, more or less, if I were to categorize it into the Trivium.

These are my labeled sections:

*Outlines
*Great Men and Women
*Wars, Conflicts, and Politics
*Inventions and Technology
*Religion
*Daily Life
*Cities and Settlements
*Primary Sources
*The Arts and Great Books

Since I have the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (found it at the thrift shop for half-price; looks brand new), I'm using that. The Kinfisher History Encyclopedia is on my wish-list, since that's the actual spine that TWTM suggests for the logic stage, and the Usborne is a little elementary. But the Usborne has all those lovely internet links, and with that and a little help from Wikipedia I'm getting along.

I started with Jericho. The Book of Joshua clearly goes under "Great Books." I read about Çatalhöyük. Fascinating stuff. Again, pretty easy to file away, under "Cities and Settlements." Next came Sumer. I thought I'd push through it quickly so that I could get on with Egypt, which sounds very interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is my Egyptian friends from college. Plus, ancient Egypt has mummies. How cool is that? Only, Sumer turned into a bigger, more interesting project than I thought it would be. And it posed some interesting challenges.

For instance, I didn't have a very clear idea of where Mesopotamia was. So I looked it up and printed out the map, along with a map of that same area today. It's basically Iraq. Now, where do I put this in my book? I ended up converting the "Primary Sources" section to "Primary Sources and Maps." Though there will likely be some maps that find their way into the cities section.

For some reason, this whole "where do I put the maps" question was very stressful to me, and I consulted on the TWTM's message board, AKA the Hive Mind. After an interesting discussion about the merits of a sectioned notebook vs. chronological notes vs. a commonplace book arrangement, one of the ladies made this very interesting observation:


TWTM has you study things chronologically and keep a timeline, but file them non-chronologically. That way you get to look at things both ways. Having sections makes you choose which is the most important aspect of something. Choosing makes you think about it.

Read her whole comment.
Read the whole thread.




Seems to me that having things set up in a way that forces you to think is an excellent way to go, so I'm sticking with the sectioned notebook for my history. Plus, this has the added benefit of letting me try out TWTM's suggested sections before Monkey needs to use them so I can have some idea of how they work in practice. I like it!

7 comments:

Keeley said...

Wow! Fascinating! You go, girl! =) =)

Ritsumei said...

Well, before you go and get all impressed, do notice that the date on the Çatalhöyük post is late August. So it's not something that I'm fast at! But it's interesting, nonetheless. I started copying the Sumerian King List. At first I thought I needed my head examined for giving myself an "assignment" like that. Now, I'm finding it more and more interesting. And I'm getting curious about that Gilgamesh guy. With a name like "Gilgamesh" he's just got to be interesting. At least, I hope so. But I may have to look around and find some sort of online something about him: my Usborne History book doesn't have anything about him to satisfy my curiosity.

Keeley said...

Just acos you're SLOW doesn't mean you're not AWESOME. Tortoise and the hare and all that. At least you're doing SOMETHING. =)

Ritsumei said...

Keeley, you're the BEST.

Rhonda said...

Very impressive!

Ritsumei said...

You are very kind! I'll feel a bit more impressed with myself when there's more evidence of STUDY in that notebook, LOL. It's big plans right now, but one of my weak places is following through on those big plans... still, this one is going pretty well. It's 3 months later and I still know where the book is. That's something. I added some stuff from that King List this week. That's something too.

Jessica said...

Love your binder -- I think I will make mine pretty too! Thanks for the inspiration!

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