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A Little History of the World-- E.H. Gombrich review:

sotw secular history gombrich

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#1 Lovedtodeath

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 10:58 PM

I really enjoy the style of this writing. I felt it was very compelling and more of a page turner than SOTW. It seems to be written at a higher level, maybe starting it at 4th grade, rather than 1st. I will admit, when I first started reading it I saw discrepencies in how some parts seemed to be speaking to very young children and other parts describing battles in detail more appropriate for an older reader. I soon got used to it, but it does seem odd. Important events are not left out. His story of Alexander the Great was particularly enjoyable and accurate. History is discussed mostly by civilization, depending on how much time goes by and how different the events are. Ancient History covered Mesopotamia, Egypt, and India all in one chapter each. China was divided due to very different time periods. Great detail is given to religion. Buddhism, Islam and Confuscious are all covered in detail at a child's level. Judaism is spoken of, but other than there being one God there is little detail. Christianity is also addressed as to how it affected several events.

I am wondering whether the book would work as part of a secular curriculum. The general discussions that I have seen about this book consider it more secular than SOTW and I completely disagree. I really don't know where the idea came from.

Here are some things that are said in the reading:

"Do you know the story of the Tower of Babel, when the people of...God was angry ... and stopped them... ?"

One of Abraham of Ur's descendants was Joseph, son of Jacob, whose brothers took him ... You may know how the story goes on: how there was a famine throughout the land, and how Joseph's brothers travelled to Egypt.

The Bible has lots of good stories about the next kings, King David and King Solomon.

Men arose among them compelled to speak to their people because God spoke through them.

You can read about Jesus Christ in the Bible. You probably know the essentials of what he taught: That all men are God's children. That the love of this father is infinite. That.... sinners. That... mercy. You know what mercy is: The great and forgiving love of God. And that is why we should treat others as we hope our God, our Father, will treat us.

And you know that Jesus traveled, healing the sick...

Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "If I don't have love..."

Anyway, just some examples. Now tell me if this will work in a secular curriculum. And if it will, would SOTW work better? Or could I use both?

Any mor reviews of this book are welcome here too.

Thanks!

#2 asta

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 11:54 PM

Well, I hope it worked as a secular curriculum spine, because it is what I used!


asta

#3 Lovedtodeath

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 12:02 AM

Thank you for replying. :) What grade level did you use it for? Why did you choose it over SOTW?

#4 asta

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 05:26 AM

I used it in 7th and 8th, actually. My DS really loves the narrative style, but felt that SOTW was too "juvenile" for him (not that it was bad, but that he wanted a book that seemingly spoke to an older audience).

I would go through each chapter, write notes about who/what was the primary personality/event, and then assign readings from the Usborne World History Encyclopedia, the Oxford Atlas of World History, and another world history book we have. Then I had him write up "TRISMS-style" sheets that I and another TRISMS user made up and put on the Yahoo TRISMS board. (He also did regular TRISMS sheets). To answer some of the questions, he had to do external research/readings (yea! the internet!).

For each subject (not each chapter), I had him make a scrapbook page (one of those big, square scrapbooks) highlighting what he learned. By the end of the year, he did the final subjects as Powerpoint slides (very nice "progression" I thought) to put in the last pages.

For 9th grade, I bought TRISMS again (I had had History Makers for 7th & 8th), but this time, instead of using it as a guide, I decided we were going to "do" it. Eh. I should have stuck with my initial plan... He likes the spine/reference/reference concept better. He has done most of Expansion of Civilization, but it has been painful in the history department (the Rhetoric portion has been very helpful, tho...).

So, for 10th, we are going back to the spine+ concept. We're using VanLoon's "The Story of Mankind". It is written slightly "older" than Gombrich, but in the same style, KWIM? The latest edition (1984) makes it up to the middle of the cold war, and that is enough for me. If you buy it, make sure you're getting the one with the illustrations, though, as VanLoon refers to them often. I initially bought a copy off of Amazon only to discover that it was simply a reprint of the 1922 edition that is available for free off of Gutenberg.org. I had to send it back (heck, I'd already downloaded the 1922 version...).


asta

#5 NicksMama-Zack's Mama Too

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 05:50 AM

I used it in 7th and 8th, actually. My DS really loves the narrative style, but felt that SOTW was too "juvenile" for him (not that it was bad, but that he wanted a book that seemingly spoke to an older audience).

I would go through each chapter, write notes about who/what was the primary personality/event, and then assign readings from the Usborne World History Encyclopedia, the Oxford Atlas of World History, and another world history book we have. Then I had him write up "TRISMS-style" sheets that I and another TRISMS user made up and put on the Yahoo TRISMS board. (He also did regular TRISMS sheets). To answer some of the questions, he had to do external research/readings (yea! the internet!).

For each subject (not each chapter), I had him make a scrapbook page (one of those big, square scrapbooks) highlighting what he learned. By the end of the year, he did the final subjects as Powerpoint slides (very nice "progression" I thought) to put in the last pages.

For 9th grade, I bought TRISMS again (I had had History Makers for 7th & 8th), but this time, instead of using it as a guide, I decided we were going to "do" it. Eh. I should have stuck with my initial plan... He likes the spine/reference/reference concept better. He has done most of Expansion of Civilization, but it has been painful in the history department (the Rhetoric portion has been very helpful, tho...).

So, for 10th, we are going back to the spine+ concept. We're using VanLoon's "The Story of Mankind". It is written slightly "older" than Gombrich, but in the same style, KWIM? The latest edition (1984) makes it up to the middle of the cold war, and that is enough for me. If you buy it, make sure you're getting the one with the illustrations, though, as VanLoon refers to them often. I initially bought a copy off of Amazon only to discover that it was simply a reprint of the 1922 edition that is available for free off of Gutenberg.org. I had to send it back (heck, I'd already downloaded the 1922 version...).


asta


:)

I'm planning on using History Makers in 7/8. Can you share the links you mentioned? I'd be very interested in your History Maker/TRISMS-style worksheets that correlate to Gombrich and HM. I'm assuming that they line up with HM??

K

#6 asta

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 06:03 AM

:)

I'm planning on using History Makers in 7/8. Can you share the links you mentioned? I'd be very interested in your History Maker/TRISMS-style worksheets that correlate to Gombrich and HM. I'm assuming that they line up with HM??

K


Well, they line up in that history is history - chronological and all that. TRISMS makes these generalized sheets for History Makers: Civilization, Historical Personality, Art/Music, etc. that the kids fill in for any given subject. When the kid moves to either Discovering the Ancient World (Creation to 500 AD - which I bought and then decided - too late - not to use, so it is sitting on my bookshelf in original packaging...) or Expansion of Civilizations (500-1500 AD), the worksheets are more specific (eg: Roman Empire Civ., Roman Republic Civ., Mesopotamia Civ., etc.).

Some of the worksheets I made, and a whole bunch that another lady made are in the "files" section of the TRISMS yahoo group (you have to sign up for the group).

I've never typed up the "read this, do that" stuff I had DS do - I'm a longhand kinda gal...


asta

#7 Nicole M

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 08:28 AM

I really loved this book.

I suspect that the reason some Christians have a hard time with it is because he talks about the long stretches of time, millennium after millennia. Definitely not a young earth guy.

My one beef, which I have mentioned here before, is that the audio does not come with any kind of table of contents, track numbers & chapter names.... Very annoying, especially as, if I recall, these chapters were written to be read aloud to the child of a friend of the author's. (I might have that not quite right, but meant to be read aloud I do remember!) So you would think more care would have gone into the production of the audio. I do love the narrator's voice, though.

#8 Lovedtodeath

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 01:31 PM

I used it in 7th and 8th, actually. My DS really loves the narrative style, but felt that SOTW was too "juvenile" for him (not that it was bad, but that he wanted a book that seemingly spoke to an older audience).

So, for 10th, we are going back to the spine+ concept. We're using VanLoon's "The Story of Mankind". It is written slightly "older" than Gombrich, but in the same style, KWIM? asta


Wow Asta! Thanks for sharing. I will look into Van Loon for later, as I really like the style of Gombrich. I do agree that it is more mature than SOTW.

#9 Lovedtodeath

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 01:33 PM

I really loved this book.

I suspect that the reason some Christians have a hard time with it is because he talks about the long stretches of time, millennium after millennia. Definitely not a young earth guy.


Do you know of secular users having a problem with it? I found it strange that he speaks to the reader as though they are familiar with all of the Bible stories mentioned.

Is it preferable to SOTW for secular use?

#10 Audrey

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 01:56 PM

I found it strange that he speaks to the reader as though they are familiar with all of the Bible stories mentioned.


I think that's simply reference to the culture of his times. It is not a contemporary book (1935 original copywright), and Gombrich is simply using the common language of his day to reinforce concepts of the text. To some degree or another, you will find this "assumption of christian context" in most books written prior to the 1950's. Hillyer's Child's History of the World is similar in that respect.

#11 training5

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 09:28 PM

ASTA, if you ever do type up the 'read this..do that' pages I would LOVE a copy!

#12 Orthodox6

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 11:39 PM

I am reading around in the book as time permits this summer. ("Reading around" means not reading sequentially through the book.)

I hardly consider the author to promote a Christian worldview when he "votes" that the ancient Egyptian religion had the best take on some things !

The book is secular, in my view, just as are Hillyer's book, and van Loon's book. Jesus is just "a good old guy" for these authors, not a member of the divine Holy Trinity, as is non-negotiable for Christians.

#13 Lovedtodeath

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 11:42 PM

Thanks for chiming in. I will probably go ahead and use it in the future, for a simplified year, or faster overview of history.

#14 Stacy in NJ

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 07:40 AM

Do you know of secular users having a problem with it? I found it strange that he speaks to the reader as though they are familiar with all of the Bible stories mentioned.

Is it preferable to SOTW for secular use?


Dss and I have listened to the audio casually over the past two years. This coming year my rising 7th grader will use it as one of his spines for Ancients. I love his fluid writing style. The way he covers the ancients and religion is particularly well done.

Grombrich was part Jewish and escaped Nazi Germany just prior to the beginning of WWII. He spent the remainder of his life in Britian, I believe. This book was originally written just prior to WWII; he added the final chapter after the war. I think it would be culturally normal in that time period to assume a working knowledge of bible stories. They would have been normal reference points for all children. There wasn't quite the same emphasis we have today on seperating religious and political history. Although, he never endorses a relgious point of view, he treats all religions quite respectfully.

I don't think it's more secular than SOTW. As a non-evangelical Christian that generally perfers secular texts, I found it just right. It assumes a knowledge of Christianity and treats it respectfully, as it does all religions, while not using it as the central theme of the text.

HTH, Stacy:001_smile:

#15 nestof3

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 08:09 AM

We have the audio book, but Nathan hasn't taken to it like SOTW. Perhaps I'll urge him to try again.

Thanks!

#16 stripe

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 08:41 AM

I found Gombrich's comments about religion to be weird/insulting (link to my post on this forum about it). His own issues with religion/religious identity in his life are very much reflected in the book. I like some parts of it a lot, but I would have to really work out how to deal with certain problem areas of the text before I'd use it.

If you are the sort of homeschooler who likes to discuss "The Problem with Religion" or somesuch, I think parts of this book would be exactly what the doctor ordered, but, on the other hand, he assumes that readers are, or will become, at least vaguely familiar with Christianity and/or take Jesus as their savior, which is hardly secular. I found this contradiction somewhat disconcerting.

#17 TaraTheLiberator

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 08:50 AM

I have read through this book (not in depth, but browsed it) and I felt that there was an assumption of Christianity that I was not comfortable with.

I felt that it was easier to manage the Christian content in SOTW because it was confined to certain chapters that we just skipped.

Tara


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