Monday, November 9, 2009

American Heritage (TOS Crew Review)

As a member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I received a CD from the American Heritage Education Foundation. The CD is offered to all educators for FREE, so I am not really all that special this time - YOU, TOO, can get this one free!

Now, let me give you some background information about this product. The American Heritage Education Foundation (AHEF) is "a non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation dedicated to the understanding and teaching of America's factual and philosophical heritage to promote constructive citizenship and Freedom, Unity, Progress, and Responsibility among our students and citizens." AHEF provides a set of FREE lesson plans, but they also offer printed binders for a fee. I received the CD with the FREE information, so we
printed what we wanted to use when we wanted to use it.

The information contained in the CD was vast, and I can see how a family with younger children like mine could study these topics over and over, in greater detail each time. Unfortunately, our family found them to be a bit dry since we are more of a "learn about it because we're interested in it" kind of family and there were so many details in the lessons, so we discussed mostly the main points. The kids did enjoy learning about how America was established and why, and we talked quite a bit about the different kinds of government... which, naturally, made their backs go up when we talked about the not-so-nice and not-very-fair governments of the world!

The American Heritage study is in PDF format and is designed for all ages (elementary, middle, and high school), and though it is designed for group learning, as in regular schools, we homeschoolers are pretty good at adapting things to meet our needs. If you like the idea of teaching your children about the history of America no matter how many grades you are simultaneously teaching, this curriculum is probably a good fit for you. The program is also available in Spanish for those of you who would prefer that.

I believe in what the AHEF is doing, and I am always talking with my children about how blessed we are to live in America, the ways our country is different than other places in the world, and why we have to use the voice our democracy gives us to make changes when we disagree with the "powers that be." However, I also believe that some of the "fuzzy, warm" messages of our heritage are glossed-over atrocities that we wish we didn't have to own. Yes, the early people of the new America did some great things in establishing this country, but I also believe that they made
horrible errors in judgment along the way. American Heritage doesn't really address those issues.

My 2 cents about American history: If we only talk about the wonderful things our forefathers did, how can we learn from their mistakes? And if we are to discuss what "freedom" means, as the AHEF does in their lessons, how can we not feel hypocritical when we celebrate the Founding Fathers and their pursuit of freedom while ignoring the fact that they were responsible for killing Indigenous Americans and forcing them off their land at gunpoint? This strikes a chord in me, and it gave me quite a bit of discomfort during the lessons, so I eventually just put it aside. I believe in learning the truth, and while there is quite a bit of that in the American Heritage lesson plans, there is also quite a bit of it missing. To their credit, the information they give is accurate - it just isn't the entire story. (~This is probably a good place to tell you that we do not teach our children about mythical holiday figures like Santa or the Tooth Fairy, either, but rather the history behind a holiday and the meaning of it. Let that help you decide what to take from this review!)

I realize that many families would disagree with me in this, and so I hope each of you finds something you can use in this review. You can then make the best decision for your homeschool. To read the reviews of my fellow TOS Crew Members, click here.

* This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my honest review after using it in our homeschool.

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