Friday, March 7, 2014

The Study of Historical Literature - Teaching the Trivium Ch. 9

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This post contains an affiliate link to the book that we are going through.

Welcome to another week of the Teaching the Trivium book club!  I am so excited to read and discuss this book along with you.  I loved the discussion last week and would love to hear from more of you!  Today we talk about studying historical literature.

Chapter 9 - An Application of Principles for the Study of Historical Literature

In chapter 8 we talked about things we need to consider when reading classic literature.  This week we are looking specifically at history and seeing how the principles we talked about last week apply to historical literature.  The Bluedorns provide us with an awesome timeline at the end of this chapter that synchronizes world events, Biblical literature, and secular literature.  This timeline is specifically for the period of the Ancient Greeks, but it serves as a great example of what can be done for any time period.

An Introduction to the Study of History

Before they get to the timeline, the Buledorns talk a little about history in general.

History is the teller of stories.  It is a narration of events in the order in which they occurred.   (pg. 243)

Historical Fact vs Historical Record

Even when we have primary sources, we do not necessarily have the facts of what happened in history.  I had never really thought about this before, but it makes sense that whoever is recording the event is telling it from their perspective and from their preconceived notions. 

They gave the example of watching a magic show.  The realty (historical fact) of what happened at a magic show will be very different than how an audience member recounts it (historical record). 

This is something good to remember when reading historical literature.

Primary vs Secondary Sources

Primary sources are records from people who actually witnessed an event.  Secondary sources are people who study primary sources (or even other secondary sources) and then share their own record.  Even though historical fact can be different than even a primary source, it is still considered to be more accurate than a secondary source.

The more times a story has been handled, ordinarily the less reliable it becomes, because interpretations and biases are usually attached with each handling.   (pg. 224-245)

I thought it was interesting what they said about ancient literature.  The true primary source records we have only go back so far.  For the early ancient civilizations, we don't have any primary sources (aside from the Bible), so we have to take the earliest secondary sources as our best account.  We call these principle sources (for example, Homer and the Trojan War).

A Literary Timeline (753-698 BC)

The last half of the chapter is a really neat literary timeline for the period of the Ancient Greeks.  Really, it is a chart showing what was going on in each area (Judah, Israel, Egypt, Assyria/Babylon/Persia, Greece, and Rome) for each year, and then what literature (broken down in to Biblical and secular) corresponds.

If you are reading along and like this timeline, or if you are just following our discussion here and think this sounds interesting, you'll want to know that the Bluedorns have an entire book dedicated to a literary timeline of ancient history.  I have it and it is a wonderful resource!
  Ancient History from Primary Sources, A Literary Timeline  

How do you choose what literature to read along with your history studies?

Do you have any favorite resources that help you decide?

Thanks for reading along this week!  Leave comments here on the blog post, or share about it on social media (#ClassicalMamasRead).  I'll be sharing too, so follow me on facebook, twitter, or google+ and we can chat about it there as well!  Don't forget, if you want to share your thoughts about Teaching the Trivium on your own blog, link it up below so we can all come and visit!

Next week we will be talking about chapter ten of Teaching the Trivium.  If you haven't gotten your own copy yet, make sure you check your library or order one soon so you can be ready for next time!  Also, this is a 600+ page book, so I am only touching on certain points of each chapter.  There is so much great information that I am not covering, so if this discussion interests you, you are going to want to make sure to pick up your own copy so you can read more!

Classical Mamas Read Link-Up

Did you write about Teaching the Trivium on your blog?  Have you been reading and blogging about another book (for you, not a children's book)?  Do you have a book club going on at your blog (once again, not for a children's book)?  I'd love for you link up here so we can all be encouraged by each other and maybe find another great book to read!

I think I'm going to keep this link-up ongoing since there aren't going to be a huge number of posts and then anyone new will be able to be encouraged by the other book reading ideas and discussions.  If the number of posts gets too large, I will fix it.

Please note, all posts must be on topic (about a book you are reading) and appropriate (think family friendly).

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  1. 1. Knowledge level: History repeats itself
    2. Understanding level: The past is the key to the future
    3. Wisdom level: He who does not study history is doomed to repeat it

    1. Thanks for sharing that part! I thought it was really interesting to think about the different stages of the trivium that way in light of history.

  2. Thanks for reminding me of the Bluedorn Ancient history book! I'd forgotten we even owned it!

    I really enjoyed Teaching the Trivium both times I read it, but I found it very difficult to implement.

    1. You're welcome =)

      I'd love to hear more about what you found hard to implement. We haven't really gotten to the how-to part yet. So far it's been more theory.

  3. I thought the timeline was pretty interesting and useful too - even if only for my only purposes. Right now we've been using some American Girl books as historical literature as well as other things I find in the library or Amazon. We use The Well Trained Mind as the base of our curriculum, and they have some really good suggestions. We'll start using more of those next year. I like how The Well Trained Mind suggests specific editions and abridged versions that are best for different ages.

    1. Yes, the suggestions the Bluedorns gave seem really good, but mostly for older kids. I also like how The Well Trained Mind gives recommendations for each age group. A good book list is so valuable! Thanks for sharing you thoughts!


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