Monday, June 24, 2013

The Classical Historian - Using the Socratic Discussion Method #MosaicReviews #Homeschool

The Classical Historian
The Classical Historian - Learning Using the Socratic Discussion

We recently had the opportunity to review a History course from The Classical Historian about Modern American History.  This is designed as a 32 week course for one full High School Year. (Grade 9-12)

The Classical Historian courses are created and taught by John DeGree, a twenty-year teaching veteran and award-winning instructor

If you order this complete curriculum, you will receive:
  • A 32 Week Detailed Guide for the Parent/Teacher
  • Take a Stand! Modern American History Student's Book - 89 Pages
  • A Related Text for Teaching the Socratic Discussion - 77 Pages
  • DVD Classes That Coincide with the Socratic Discussion Text - 3 DVDs
  • A Patriot's History to the United States, Textbook
  • The Patriot's History Reader, a Primary Source Book
The current price for the package is $146.99 and it can be ordered from the website.  If you are working with more than one student, individual items may also be ordered.

The Classical Historian is different from ordinary textbook learning, which is based on memorization.  These courses are designed to get students to think independently, form opinions, and then argue them effectively using written and spoken words.

Socratic LearningHow Does the Program Work?
1. Students are Introduced to the Tools of the Historian.
2. Students are Challenged with Open-Ended Questions.
3. Students Research in a Variety of Secondary and Primary Sources.
4. Students Engage in a Socratic Discussion.
5. Students Write an Analytical Essay
As the Teacher, I plan my lessons with these:

The Classical Historian - Teacher's Materials
The 32 week guide begins with an explanation of the course, instructions and tips for how to teach the class, and some planning notes.

There are two things going on in the course. I am teaching the children the Socratic Discussion Method of learning and then we are applying it to History.

The instructions are very clear and include the corresponding DVD lessons and textbook pages . There is even an estimate for the amount of time required to cover the material.  Even if a teacher or parent is not familiar with the Socratic discussion, the guide helps tremendously.

There are also three DVDs.  One is a short introduction, the second is a longer introduction with more information, and the third has video segments that correspond with lessons. In the videos the teacher and students are sitting at a table so I was able to get a feel for what it might be like in our own home.  You can see some sample videos here.

We had two of the student books to work with:

The Classical Historian - Socratic Discussion
This book focuses on the Socratic Discussion, and can be purchased and used as a course by itself.

The main purpose is to teach the skills required to develop a critical thinking mindset and to view history as more than a list of dates and names.

These lessons are used to foster independent thinking and effective communication. It starts out simply - we discussed the difference between a fact and an opinion.  As the course progresses, the concepts become more sophisticated.  Students learn how to discern reliable sources and skills for making judgments, relaying information how to conduct good research, and to answer questions that are open to interpretation.

These skills are intertwined with our study of Modern American History.

The Classical Historian - Modern American History
The Take a Stand! book allows the students to apply their analytical thinking skills to their studies. The goal is to begin thinking like a historian by digging into the past and forming opinions.  Skills are acquired by discussing a point of view and doing the research required to back up the opinion.  By investing thought into their position they are not only learning history but they are developing critical thinking and debating skills.

In order to use this text properly, the two Patriot's History texts are required for research and we did not have them at this time, therefore I cannot share an opinion on them or their content.  However, according to the website, online documents will soon be available.  I believe these would be used instead of the texts, and will also bring down the price of the entire course.

There are several other courses available, and even some fun history games and flash cards.

Ancient History Flash Cards
This pack of Ancient History Flash Cards can be played four different ways.  It has 48 informational cards and two instructions cards.  The price is $11.95 for the deck.

As I mentioned, this pack is four games in one - and if you have children like my boys, they are marvelous just for reading and gathering information.  Each card contains some basic historical facts, chronology, geography and association.

The four suggested games are: 
A. Go Fish:  Players try to collect all four-of-a-kind cards from the following categories. The player who captures most sets wins
B. Collect the Cards:  Players use historical facts (hints) to try and guess the image on the card. If a player guesses correctly, he wins the card
C. Chronology:  Players assemble all cards in chronological order, as fast as they can. The fastest time wins! (or one assembles and the other times him)
D. Continents:  Place the Continents cards at the top of the playing field. Shuffle the other cards. When one player signals, the other player assembles all cards under the correct continent, as fast as he can. The fastest time wins! (Answer key provided)
You can find The Classical Historian on Facebook.

You can also find a FREE Summer Lesson on the website!  Scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign up to be notified of future free lessons and other news.

Read more reviews about a variety of Classical Historian products by visiting the Mosaic Reviews blog on June 28th.