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Okay. So I didn't want to hijack the thread about finding a good science program, but I feel that I have the same problem with finding a good history program. I have yet to find a good Christian history program that didn't put bias into it.

My issues with history programs that I've used so far are:

 

1. Incorrect historical information. We had this happen when we read Calvert's 3rd grade history. It was about Ulysses S Grant and Robert E Lee. The page we read made it sound like Robert E Lee was some sort of good guy when in fact in history he was anything but. Of course in third grade you don't want to get into graphic stuff but don't paint the man as a saint either because that wasn't the truth. It also seemed biased against the north making it seem that the north was bad. My husband ( the history buff) picked up on that.

 

2. To much bias. Programs like BJU and Abeka like to paint the Catholics as being evil. They tend to forget that this was the way it was then. Everyone was Catholic. There weren't any Baptists, or Lutherns or, Methodists, any other religion to that. Everyone was just Catholic during the Dark AGes. Middle Ages, etc until Martin Luther disagreed with the selling of indulgences by the priests. In all actuality he didn't want to start a new religion or stray from Catholisism in general. He just wanted to point out the things that were wrong with the church in hopes in fixing them( Luther's 95 These)or making wrongs right within the church.

So to sit and either ignore the fact that people were Catholic at one time in history in Europe ,or to say that the Catholics were evil and Luther was a Savior of some sort is wrong as well. I guess that would go into incorrect information as well.

 

3. The book is so dry it reduces your children to tears. Calvert (except grade 4) is one of them. My girls aren't really enjoying K12 either. I see they just kind of do it. And the work is not very age appropriate. The 6th grade history has them outlining and writing persusasive essays and such about topics that are beyond their level of thinking. With my daughters I see them just plugging in the information and it doesn't mean much to them. I have not attempted CLE's history as it looks REALLY dry.

 

4. Are not current. We were skimming Abeka's upper level history at a conference last year and found that their highest history book stopped with Bill Clinton. Wow! That is a huge chunk of history that our children are missing out on if that is far as they go.

 

5. The history bounces around. BJU seems to do this with the elementary grades. They start from the beginning with American History but you really need to start from the beginning. If you haven't studied American History you literally need to start with their 1st grade book to start from the beginning. If you had a 5th grader who hasn't started American history yet and you start their 5th grade history then your missing out on everything else that was talked about in 1st. 2nd , 3rd , and 4th grades. I would think that history then wouldn't make a whole lot of sense in that case.

 

 

I know history can be subjective but really.

I did like Homeschool in the Woods for the American history but it only goes so far( see problem 4) and I dont think my daughter had gotten a whole lot out of the history even though we did the lapbook. Today ( a year later) she doesn't remember even doing much of it! Yikes. We did go at a fast pace though so that could of been the problem too.

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I COMPLETELY agree!! It has been a huge battle for me. I'm so close to just trying my own thing. The only thing that stops me is I'm afraid I can't do it quite as well. I keep looking for the perfect history curriculum already put together and have yet to find it.

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Okay. So I didn't want to hijack the thread about finding a good science program, but I feel that I have the same problem with finding a good history program. I have yet to find a good Christian history program that didn't put bias into it.

My issues with history programs that I've used so far are:

 

1. Incorrect historical information. We had this happen when we read Calvert's 3rd grade history. It was about Ulysses S Grant and Robert E Lee. The page we read made it sound like Robert E Lee was some sort of good guy when in fact in history he was anything but. Of course in third grade you don't want to get into graphic stuff but don't paint the man as a saint either because that wasn't the truth. It also seemed biased against the north making it seem that the north was bad. My husband ( the history buff) picked up on that.

 

2. To much bias. Programs like BJU and Abeka like to paint the Catholics as being evil. They tend to forget that this was the way it was then. Everyone was Catholic. There weren't any Baptists, or Lutherns or, Methodists, any other religion to that. Everyone was just Catholic during the Dark AGes. Middle Ages, etc until Martin Luther disagreed with the selling of indulgences by the priests. In all actuality he didn't want to start a new religion or stray from Catholisism in general. He just wanted to point out the things that were wrong with the church in hopes in fixing them( Luther's 95 These)or making wrongs right within the church.

So to sit and either ignore the fact that people were Catholic at one time in history in Europe ,or to say that the Catholics were evil and Luther was a Savior of some sort is wrong as well. I guess that would go into incorrect information as well.

 

3. The book is so dry it reduces your children to tears. Calvert (except grade 4) is one of them. My girls aren't really enjoying K12 either. I see they just kind of do it. And the work is not very age appropriate. The 6th grade history has them outlining and writing persusasive essays and such about topics that are beyond their level of thinking. With my daughters I see them just plugging in the information and it doesn't mean much to them. I have not attempted CLE's history as it looks REALLY dry.

 

4. Are not current. We were skimming Abeka's upper level history at a conference last year and found that their highest history book stopped with Bill Clinton. Wow! That is a huge chunk of history that our children are missing out on if that is far as they go.

 

5. The history bounces around. BJU seems to do this with the elementary grades. They start from the beginning with American History but you really need to start from the beginning. If you haven't studied American History you literally need to start with their 1st grade book to start from the beginning. If you had a 5th grader who hasn't started American history yet and you start their 5th grade history then your missing out on everything else that was talked about in 1st. 2nd , 3rd , and 4th grades. I would think that history then wouldn't make a whole lot of sense in that case.

 

 

I know history can be subjective but really.

I did like Homeschool in the Woods for the American history but it only goes so far( see problem 4) and I dont think my daughter had gotten a whole lot out of the history even though we did the lapbook. Today ( a year later) she doesn't remember even doing much of it! Yikes. We did go at a fast pace though so that could of been the problem too.

Lee was, at that time, the only student to make it through West Point without a single demerit. Yes, he fought for the "wrong" side, but the rationalization was that his family was in the south. Sometimes bias can run both ways ;)

 

Have you tried Story of the World, or just using the Kingfisher (or equivalent) History Encyclopedia as a spine?

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I had that issue with one history book we've used. While covering the Civil War it comes across as very sympathetic to the South and gives way more attention to and emphasis on Lee than Lincoln. I don't mind reading a balanced account of Lee (positive as well as the negative), just like I want to read the truth about our national heroes, warts and all, but this went beyond that. We didn't get that far before we switched and began SOTW, but my plan was to pretty much skip that section in the book and do our own thing for the Civil War. The same book also presented the theory of people migrating across a land bridge from Asia to America as fact, which was minor but still bugged me. Anyway, it was definitely a wake-up call to thoroughly check out any history resources we use. SOTW isn't Christian, but it's as unbiased as anything I've seen. I'd rather use a neutral source and add in our own perspective than have to cut and paste or explain why the book isn't right or doesn't tell the whole story.

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I think finding an 'unbiased' history program is probably impossible. Just take a look at this thread. Already people have shown their own bias about events. What some call 'sympathetic to the South' others would call recognizing that the Civil War wasn't all about slavery. There are as many events with different ways to look at them as there are events in history.

 

Heather

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Lee was, at that time, the only student to make it through West Point without a single demerit. Yes, he fought for the "wrong" side, but the rationalization was that his family was in the south. Sometimes bias can run both ways ;)

 

 

What's "no demerits" compared with being a traitor to your nation and leading a war in the defense of human slavery? A war that resulted in the loss of more than 600,000 lives.

 

Lee served the cause of evil. That makes him a very bad man.

 

Bill

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1. Incorrect historical information. We had this happen when we read Calvert's 3rd grade history. It was about Ulysses S Grant and Robert E Lee. The page we read made it sound like Robert E Lee was some sort of good guy when in fact in history he was anything but.

 

I guess you won't like wikipedia's bias either, for while it doesn't make him out to be a god, it does acknowledge he is an icon in our country. Don't forget Grant's ineffectual presidency. Like his tomb, though.

 

Your concerns are one reason I'm making science my spine until kiddo is 13 or 14 or whenever he starts being able to accept the complexities of human behavior. In the mean time, broad overview, geography, historical art, lots of stories, and a few lists to memorize will do us. We spent two weeks pouring over every picture book on castles I could find, wallowing in the details of castle and feudal life, and no good-guy/bad-guy needed.

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Wasn't it Voltaire that said that history is a set of fables that we agree on? That is my opinion of history especially history for young people. What you need to look for are history books for your kids that agree with the fables that you know and some critical history books written for yourself.

 

And some of us are from the South - we learned a whole 'nuther version of American history. It has taken me many years to sort out my opinions on just a few key details, and I'm still working on it. I'm willing to bet that someone not from the South would have received an equally biased view of all of American History. It is just the way it is.

 

SWB reccomends stuying original documents - it really helps to balance out some of the biases. For American history, you can't beat the National Archives.

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Back then there wasn't a Geneva Convention like there is now. For example you aren't able to mistreat a prisoner.

Lee's command structure failed to convey and maintain discipline among the enlisted ranks. Meaning Lee's troops were lacking in discipline , and so when prisoners were captured they were very badly mistreated.

 

I'm not debating whether he was a good General or not, because he plainly was. My beef is making it that one side was better than the other. War is wrong no matter whether it was North or South.

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The programs you mentioned; Calvert, Abeka, and BJU are all boring. Really. There are many other resources that teach history in a much more interesting way. The SOTW books have been favorites in our house. Have you considered Sonlight or other programs that use real books?

 

Agreeing with many other posters, you probably won't find any program that perfectly reflects your own world view. That's why we talk to our kids, right?

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SWB reccomends stuying original documents - it really helps to balance out some of the biases. For American history, you can't beat the National Archives.

 

:iagree:

 

I've often thought that the perfect history program would be based on primary source documents. I'm trying to work a lot of them in, even with my littles. I bought the four books from the American Heritage, American Voices series and have been very happy with them.

 

OP, I feel your pain. I tweak science to the point that the publisher probably couldn't even recognize it and also do my own thing for history (and increasingly for every darn thing). :tongue_smilie:

 

ETA: Regarding bias in history, I LOVE the quote on SWB's home page. Love it. Also, I'm doing my own thing now but I agree that SOTW is fabulous and we'll be doing that happily after we finish with American history.

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I've often thought that the perfect history program would be based on primary source documents.

 

Even then there will be possible bias in which documents are chosen, or the bias of the person who wrote the original account.

 

This week we've been doing Richard the Lionheart & John. John is viewed as incompetent & not a good king in most books, but much of what was written about him was written by monks who were miffed at his closing the churches, whereas Richard is viewed as wonderful even though he cost the country a fortune.

 

I think the best you can hope to do is not restrict yourself to one source, and to talk about it with your children.

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SOTW isn't Christian

 

Whereas I, as a non-Christian, view SOTW Volume I as having a very heavy Christian bias. There are entire chapters which present stories from the Bible as historical fact. In the process, SWB also devotes an inordinate amount of time to happenings involving the Israelites. While I'm not disputing the historical significance of Christianity, it seems to me that much more space is devoted to it and its origins in SOTW Vol. 1 than would be called for based on the significance of the events during the time period in question.

 

I bring this up to make a point about history. There is no such thing as objectivity in history. We all have our own bias, which we bring to the study of history. Anything that has ever been written about history has a bias. Original source documents have a bias. The decision about which original source documents to read is a source of bias. No matter how hard we try to understand the original context, we are unable to escape our own cultural background in reading history.

 

What seems to me a satisfactory account of the American Civil War may seem to you an unsatisfactory one. Neither one of us is necessarily "wrong" -- we just look at it differently. Which, getting back to the original subject, is why it's so hard to find a good history program. Everyone's definition of "good" is different.

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One question to ask is do you want to be challenged in your view of history. I love reading a history book (or any book) that challenges my view on a subject. It fires me up and makes me tear into the original documents and any other source I can find to come to a better understanding of the matter. Case in point - Civil War, Lee v. Lincoln. You can read books that will tell you Lincoln is a saint and Lee is a demon, or vice versa. You can read books that will tell you the Civil War was fought about slavery alone or not about slavery at all. All those books are simplistic,one-sided and ignore reality. One of the joys of homeschooling is having the opportunity to self-educate while you're teaching the kids. Plus, I don't think it can hurt for your children to see you really get into researching, learning and trying to find answers. I love getting to share what I've learned with my kids and see them get fired up and start searching, too.

 

Back to the main topic - haven't tried the resources you named, but I agree with PP who mentioned SOTW, or Sonlight. I'd also add TOG. (Christian ones since you mentioned Christian ones in your post)

 

SOTW - I think it is written from a Christian worldview but with a very careful handling of other religions. We've used it as a springboard to delve into other world religions. I think she does a good job of trying to include many religions and treat them respectfully, but I agree with PP that it is def. written from a Christian frame of reference.

Edited by MSNative
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I have posted once before about a book we are enjoying, The Heritage of America by Henry Steele Commager and Allan Nevins. The author states in the introduction material that "The volume is not for the specialist, and does not fall into or even touch that category of 'collected documents' or 'source books' of which large numbers already exist." It is though, a very nice collection of personal narratives, and the authors state that they attempted to "offer a measure of continuity", and also "tried to insist upon verbal accuracy." There is also a full bibliography for "those who wish to obtain the text of any selection in its original form". The authors also state that they "have tried to obtain a wide variety of views, by no means excluding some of an extreme or eccentric character."

 

This book could be ordered cheaply, or can be viewed for free at:

 

http://www.archive.org/details/heritageofameric031208mbp

 

You could possibly put together a nice program of American history with this text and the primary source documents from the National Archives, thereby avoiding any potential bias.

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Whereas I, as a non-Christian, view SOTW Volume I as having a very heavy Christian bias. There are entire chapters which present stories from the Bible as historical fact. In the process, SWB also devotes an inordinate amount of time to happenings involving the Israelites. While I'm not disputing the historical significance of Christianity, it seems to me that much more space is devoted to it and its origins in SOTW Vol. 1 than would be called for based on the significance of the events during the time period in question.

 

I bring this up to make a point about history. There is no such thing as objectivity in history. We all have our own bias, which we bring to the study of history. Anything that has ever been written about history has a bias. Original source documents have a bias. The decision about which original source documents to read is a source of bias. No matter how hard we try to understand the original context, we are unable to escape our own cultural background in reading history.

 

What seems to me a satisfactory account of the American Civil War may seem to you an unsatisfactory one. Neither one of us is necessarily "wrong" -- we just look at it differently. Which, getting back to the original subject, is why it's so hard to find a good history program. Everyone's definition of "good" is different.

 

 

Interesting you should mention the amount of Israelites in the SOTW books. I used to think this, too. Now, I don't mind, but I did think that the kids in school don't cover Moses for example. One day I browsed through a friends sixth grade history book, and it is all in it; all the same information. That did surprise me.

 

Susie

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I agree with previous posters. If a human wrote it, it's biased. We are too complex a creature to avoid it. Imagine trying to drain all personal opinion and bias out of history - how dry and boring it would be. The best we can do is gently encourage our kids to be aware that there are many opinions on past events, thank goodness, and to learn to open our minds to differences of opinion. This is hard to do with young ones without creating cynicism. Lee was a bad man? You could do a Ph.D. or write a book on that comment from a historical/ethical/anthropological/philosophical viewpoint. Some probably have. :) That's the point of history study. To learn from our past - about human nature, and to take what lessons it gives us, good/bad/ugly/beautiful/confusing, and most importantly to me, hopeful.

All that being said, we're still faced with choosing what kind of biased book to read. Some commentaries are certainly more agenda-driven than others. Even Primary sources were written by biased people, and that bias is part of the history.

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I haven't found it to be particularly difficult. We have stuck to WTM recommendations more or less, using a spine we like and lots of additional reading. I used Abeka and BJU as a child, and have avoided them as an adult for various reasons, but there are plenty of alternatives available. I really appreciate that SOTW includes some basic religious stories/history from around the world but leaves the commentary to the individual family or classroom.

 

ETA: I absolutely agree that anything we read will have certain perspective and bias (sometimes to an extreme). I see that as inevitable. But by reading various sources and discussing, we can build a better picture in our minds. I'm not worried about giving my grammar stage students a "full" picture -- we're at the beginning -- but we're working towards the best understanding our own biased, human minds can manage. ;)

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I absolutely agree that anything we read will have certain perspective and bias (sometimes to an extreme). I see that as inevitable. But by reading various sources and discussing, we can build a better picture in our minds. I'm not worried about giving my grammar stage students a "full" picture -- we're at the beginning -- but we're working towards the best understanding our own biased, human minds can manage. ;)

 

:iagree:

 

Even then there will be possible bias in which documents are chosen, or the bias of the person who wrote the original account.

 

Yes, I agree that using primary sources does not completely do away with bias. However, there is something to be said for the fact that it's the bias of the time, not bias that's been filtered anywhere from the last big campaign to hundreds or thousands of years ago.

 

I think the best you can hope to do is not restrict yourself to one source, and to talk about it with your children.

 

To be sure, we discuss. That's big here. As the kids get older, I plan to read differing viewpoints simultaneously (Zinn and Bennett for American history should be a hoot) to discuss point of view.

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Even then there will be possible bias in which documents are chosen, or the bias of the person who wrote the original account.

 

This week we've been doing Richard the Lionheart & John. John is viewed as incompetent & not a good king in most books, but much of what was written about him was written by monks who were miffed at his closing the churches, whereas Richard is viewed as wonderful even though he cost the country a fortune.

 

I think the best you can hope to do is not restrict yourself to one source, and to talk about it with your children.

 

Exactly!!!

 

I was just thinking the other day that I actually enjoy certain biased material because they give me an edge to bump up against, and sort out my own thoughts. I was reading Fran Rutherford's study guide, Questions for the Thinker when this thought struck me. She is very Catholic, and it is easy for me to identify where her world view differs from mine, and that makes it a good teaching source for me.

 

We actually quite like the K12 Human Odyssey as a spine. We are not using it with K12, though. It's one of the better sources out there for middle school, I feel. And it's easy to branch out from it, to explore other ideas. Before I found it, I used to read aloud two or three wildly different sources about a topic, and then we'd discuss why so-and-so doesn't even mention the wife, as if she didn't exist, but focused instead on blah blah blah, when, in fact, the wife was the brains of the whole operation, according to X source. It was fun. "Hmm. Someone is missing from this account." Or, "Holy cow! They left out a whole huge chunk of this letter from Columbus, the part about torturing natives! How convenient." Fun but exhausting.

 

I guess I just try to work with the biases. (Why was it important, in 1945, for this author to emphasize national identity in his writing about X ancient culture? What was happening in 1945 when this author was writing?) I think of history not so much as something to master, but an opportunity to engage with stories, to explore how we look at our world, and develop habits of inquiry.

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One question to ask is do you want to be challenged in your view of history. I love reading a history book (or any book) that challenges my view on a subject. It fires me up and makes me tear into the original documents and any other source I can find to come to a better understanding of the matter. Case in point - Civil War, Lee v. Lincoln. You can read books that will tell you Lincoln is a saint and Lee is a demon, or vice versa. You can read books that will tell you the Civil War was fought about slavery alone or not about slavery at all. All those books are simplistic,one-sided and ignore reality. One of the joys of homeschooling is having the opportunity to self-educate while you're teaching the kids. Plus, I don't think it can hurt for your children to see you really get into researching, learning and trying to find answers. I love getting to share what I've learned with my kids and see them get fired up and start searching, too.

 

Back to the main topic - haven't tried the resources you named, but I agree with PP who mentioned SOTW, or Sonlight. I'd also add TOG. (Christian ones since you mentioned Christian ones in your post)

 

 

Nicely said. This is what I was trying to get at, too.

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Whereas I, as a non-Christian, view SOTW Volume I as having a very heavy Christian bias. There are entire chapters which present stories from the Bible as historical fact. In the process, SWB also devotes an inordinate amount of time to happenings involving the Israelites. While I'm not disputing the historical significance of Christianity, it seems to me that much more space is devoted to it and its origins in SOTW Vol. 1 than would be called for based on the significance of the events during the time period in question.

 

 

Interesting you should mention the amount of Israelites in the SOTW books. I used to think this, too. Now, I don't mind, but I did think that the kids in school don't cover Moses for example. One day I browsed through a friends sixth grade history book, and it is all in it; all the same information. That did surprise me.

 

Susie

:iagree:I was very surprised that the IMO "often recommended as more secular" Public School K12 text Human Odyssey had much, much more Israelite history than SOTW. Just one example is that it included kings David and Solomon. It had just as much on Israel as it had on Babylon and Assyria.

 

I am wondering why history written in the Bible is automatically dismissed. Is our Sumerian and Egyptian history not written down by the Sumerians and Egyptians with their beliefs and biases?

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Sorry, I haven't read all the replies, but in asking for a "good Christian history program that doesn't have bias" you are kind of contradicting yourself. History written from a Christian perspective will have a Christian bias.

 

I did read some of the replies and I think the best thing you can do is find a core you can mostly trust and then add other things into it to balance it as much as you can. I think this is probably more important in HS and that is research a student could do on their own at that point. What an excellent exercise for a rhetoric student to defend different viewpoints of history!

 

For our young children we are using and enjoy SOTW and MOH. MOH is heavily Christian bias, but that is what we want right now. My children are LOVING the emphasis on Bible and Church history. I want for them something I never had... our religious history woven into greater world history. But, that is certainly a bias, albeit a chosen one!

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Tracy, I'm with you about the challenging of finding your comfort zone in teaching history, but I think you're not being realistic about textbooks.

 

To address your points:

1. History-telling involves spin and perspective, no matter who is doing the telling. When I lived in VA, a certain holiday was called Jackson-Lee-King Day, not Martin Luther King Day...

 

2. If a Catholic is offended by protestant texts, I'm not shocked. But I think, not being a history lover and only slightly informed, that certain groups would take issue with the statement that only the Catholic church existed through time. The anabaptists for instance have their chronology and history that goes all the way back.

 

3. Dry. Well sorry, but I think some curricula are written by people who just plain can't write. They are also expected to work within grade level specifications, vocabulary lists, etc. from the publisher.

 

4. Not up to date. Well come on. BJU updates every 10 years. Update faster and the schools are screaming over the cost of replacing all those textbooks.

 

5. Bizarre and bouncy content. Sorry, but that's thanks to standardized testing. Seriously, my teacher friend in a cs clued me into this about the funky BJU texts.

 

They are what they are, and I'm not saying I love them. But at least I can understand the limitations they're working with. These publishers aren't hiring topnotch writers to go write narrative style tomes to engage and delight our kids. They're hiring whoever will sit in some cubicle, whoever was on some staff at some university or elementary school, and they have to work within limitations, price points, and more. When you find the really good texts, the delightful ones, those are GEMS, the rarity.

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Whereas I, as a non-Christian, view SOTW Volume I as having a very heavy Christian bias. There are entire chapters which present stories from the Bible as historical fact. In the process, SWB also devotes an inordinate amount of time to happenings involving the Israelites. While I'm not disputing the historical significance of Christianity, it seems to me that much more space is devoted to it and its origins in SOTW Vol. 1 than would be called for based on the significance of the events during the time period in question.

 

 

 

Liberal colleges cover Israelite's history in their Western Civilization courses. I'm assuming SWB knows this and that is why it is included in the SOTW. It offers a foundation for the elementary students that might eventually go to college.

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I am wondering why history written in the Bible is automatically dismissed. Is our Sumerian and Egyptian history not written down by the Sumerians and Egyptians with their beliefs and biases?

 

The Bible has a number of problems as a source of historical information. Of course, many people believe that the authors of the various books of the Bible were divinely inspired, and that therefore, the information contained within the Bible may have greater historical validity than we would attribute to a similar, but non-divinely-inspired text. I say "may have" because there is a great diversity of views even among those who are believers, so there are many Christians and Jews (I am not as familiar with the beliefs of Muslims) who believe that the Bible is divinely inspired, but nonetheless do not believe that all of the facts contained within it are historically true.

 

As a non-believer, I obviously do not believe that the information contained in the Bible has greater validity than other sources, and therefore would evaluate it based on the same criteria I would use to evaluate other sources. Some of those criteria would include:

 

* How long after the events in question did the author write the work? Did the author personally observe the events? What sources did he or she use?

* What corroboration of the events is available from other sources?

* What is the author's possible bias or agenda?

* Is the document authentic? That is, was it actually written by the person it is attributed to at the time when it purports to have been written?

* Is the original manuscript available, or are we relying on a later copy? Is it possible that changes were introduced in the copying process?

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Tracy, I'm with you about the challenging of finding your comfort zone in teaching history, but I think you're not being realistic about textbooks.

 

To address your points:

1. History-telling involves spin and perspective, no matter who is doing the telling. When I lived in VA, a certain holiday was called Jackson-Lee-King Day, not Martin Luther King Day...

 

2. If a Catholic is offended by protestant texts, I'm not shocked. But I think, not being a history lover and only slightly informed, that certain groups would take issue with the statement that only the Catholic church existed through time. The anabaptists for instance have their chronology and history that goes all the way back.

 

Yes, I'm aware of the Anabaptists as well. But I'm talking about the historical content that we are reading about at the time. By calling all Catholics evil is just plain wrong. It was what the priests were doing at the time that was wrong by selling indulgences and the other things that were outline in Luthers 95 Theses.

 

3. Dry. Well sorry, but I think some curricula are written by people who just plain can't write. They are also expected to work within grade level specifications, vocabulary lists, etc. from the publisher.

 

I understand that. But even upper level curricula from some companies is just so dry it makes my own eyes glaze. LOL.

 

4. Not up to date. Well come on. BJU updates every 10 years. Update faster and the schools are screaming over the cost of replacing all those textbooks.

 

Didn't say BJU wasn't updated. I know it is. In my original post I mentioned Abeka. When we were at a homeschool convention last year my husband was looking at the abeka history and was looking at their 12th grade history. For him it was shocking to see it only went up to Bill Clinton. We have had so much gone since he's been in office.

5. Bizarre and bouncy content. Sorry, but that's thanks to standardized testing. Seriously, my teacher friend in a cs clued me into this about the funky BJU texts.

 

I can say that I understand that too. But if you have a child that comes from a different school and they are starting to talk about the Civil War and they haven't been clued in on the other events of history. History just isn't going to make much sense. Granted I know that with homeschooling you can fill in those gaps. But then why buy the books if you have to fill in all of that before delving into the curriculum?

 

They are what they are, and I'm not saying I love them. But at least I can understand the limitations they're working with. These publishers aren't hiring topnotch writers to go write narrative style tomes to engage and delight our kids. They're hiring whoever will sit in some cubicle, whoever was on some staff at some university or elementary school, and they have to work within limitations, price points, and more. When you find the really good texts, the delightful ones, those are GEMS, the rarity.

 

Its just a shame that history is made so boring in some texts that it totally turns children off. I am just now in my life enjoying history and understanding it. Before when I was a child in school I actually think I blocked out ever having history it was so boring and dry. My husband knows quite a bit about history and I ask him how he remembers all about it and he said that he loves to read about. Maybe it wasn't my cup of tea then. But the way I'm learning it now has made it so interesting that if it was presented to me that way in school I would of at least noticed I was taking a history class. LOL !:lol:

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Liberal colleges cover Israelite's history in their Western Civilization courses. I'm assuming SWB knows this and that is why it is included in the SOTW. It offers a foundation for the elementary students that might eventually go to college.

 

I should clarify that I was not suggesting that Biblical history is an unimportant subject. I believe that every well-educated person in our culture needs to be familiar with the important Bible stories, including those recounting the origins and history of the Israelites.

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What's "no demerits" compared with being a traitor to your nation and leading a war in the defense of human slavery? A war that resulted in the loss of more than 600,000 lives.

 

Lee served the cause of evil. That makes him a very bad man.

 

Bill

 

I wish your son were a little older (although you probably don't :001_smile:) so you could share with us all what you would be using for middle school. I would be very interested in that.

 

The only thing I've found that anywhere meets my criteria for middle school is K12's The Human Odyssey. For US History she's reading though Joy Hakim's set. And we talk, and then talk some more.

 

For my younger set I'm using DK's Children's Encyclopedia of American History as an overview with library books. For world history I'm using SOTW Vol. 2 although I'm not totally satisfied with it. When I first saw SOTW I would have said it was secular. Since then, due to personal changes in religion and such, I'm seeing it with different eyes. While it's still much, much better than most available for that, I do see a 'slight' Christian bias that wasn't so noticeable to me before.

 

I want a history book that doesn't come from a Catholic or Protestant or Christian or western worldview. Maybe a 'human' worldview. And I think it's impossible. It's very frustrating. I spend more time thinking about teaching history than any other subject, and it causes me the most frustration. That was until I heard about MCT, anyway.

 

Oh, and I was raised in the north and I remember Lee being held up as a hero; not because he was from the South but for reasons Christian morality and integrity. But I attended Catholic schools, so there's that bias again.

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The programs you mentioned; Calvert, Abeka, and BJU are all boring. Really. There are many other resources that teach history in a much more interesting way. The SOTW books have been favorites in our house. Have you considered Sonlight or other programs that use real books?

 

Agreeing with many other posters, you probably won't find any program that perfectly reflects your own world view. That's why we talk to our kids, right?

 

That's what I was thinking :001_smile:

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Once kids are older, perhaps middle school age, you can read a couple of books on the same topic, from different viewpoints. (Actually you can even do this with history picture books when they are young, but it's a rare kid who can see the differences or understand why that's important.) You can compare textbooks, which has been done in an interesting way by James Loewen in "Lies My History Teacher Taught Me." Or you can compare in other ways: read Marc Aronsen's "Witch Hunt" alongside "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" and consider the absence of the Salem witch trials in most major textbooks (the one my daughter used at a private school she attended briefly omitted them entirely, for instance); I haven't gone back and looked at Hakim to see what she does with them.

 

Almost any topic can be approached in this manner.

 

The other thing I am beginning to do with my daughter is spend quite a bit of time looking through a book's end notes and bibliography. We talk about what sources an author used/didn't use. Again, you can do this in a low-key way with an upper-elementary or middle-school child and more intensively later. My daughter was perplexed when she read two picture/chapter books about Marco Polo's era. One focused more on the biography of Polo, and one was more of a survey; but the information they had on Polo himself was very different in both factual terms and in emphasis. How do you know which is true, she asked me. So we looked at up the authors' credentials, looked at the works cited, looked at the end notes, discussed how and why an author would emphasize different aspects or points, and came to a conclusion. We also discussed how professional historians disagree and argue with one another's conclusions or interpretations.

 

We don't do this for every single time period, person, or topic... but we do it with major events or issues. (My daughter is now asking me to get her a book that tells about the American Revolution from the British point of view. What do British kids read in their history books, she wants to know.)

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I think it is hard to find the right history program because often we need one to fulfill many needs. I want my program to be interesting to my dd and yet I want one that engages my best teaching skills too. We need it to meet our needs in so many different ways. Do we want it to include a lot of craft ideas, tons of extra supplemental reading or just a few carefully chosen supplements or do we want a program that incorporates writing? Once you decide on what engages you as a teacher (interesting and correct text/spine), what engages your student (interesting) and what extras you want it to provide you with, then I think it will be easier to decide. We are all so different. My dd prefers a well-written narrative style book for her history and to supplement with only a few well chosen supplements. She would really not like to be required to read a ton of historical fiction books to support a theme in history. She doesn't need the crafts (and I, as her teacher, don't want us to use our time with them...more now that she is older. We did our share of fun crafts when she was younger!:001_smile:) and she prefers to think and share her opinion of what she has read through writing. We do some map work and I let her add some pictures as she desires to fulfil her desire for being artistic. I add another (or 2) additional narrative spines to create balance. For example, we are reading about the middle ages from The Story of England for an English perspective, The Story of France for a French perspective and The Story of the Middle Ages because I liked how it included more German perspectives. I'm also adding carefully chosen supplements which include Arabs in the Golden Age and Saladin and The Crusades to be sure to show more than one side to a topic in our studies. I also very much agree with pps that using source documents is very important. I add these as well. Other families have dc who prefer to use a textbook yet add a lot of extra historical fiction to it. I think it really is about finding your own path. It really does take time. I've been homeschooling for 8 years now and I just now feel like I have finally figured some things out. And there are other days when other helpful friends here on this board and IRL who help me sort out my head and probably wonder when I'm going to figure some things out (I keep going round and round with some ideas!:lol:). I would suggest that you find out what type of book/text/spine inspires you and interests your child and then add to it as suits both of you.

 

HTH:001_smile:

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I'm not worried about giving my grammar stage students a "full" picture -- we're at the beginning -- but we're working towards the best understanding our own biased, human minds can manage. ;)

 

:iagree: I don't think with this age group, or probably even with logic stage, we are really trying to give our students "The Historical Truth." I think we are trying to give them a reasonably thorough general knowledge in the area of history.

 

Rosie

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I wish your son were a little older (although you probably don't :001_smile:) so you could share with us all what you would be using for middle school. I would be very interested in that.

 

The only thing I've found that anywhere meets my criteria for middle school is K12's The Human Odyssey. For US History she's reading though Joy Hakim's set. And we talk, and then talk some more.

 

For my younger set I'm using DK's Children's Encyclopedia of American History as an overview with library books. For world history I'm using SOTW Vol. 2 although I'm not totally satisfied with it. When I first saw SOTW I would have said it was secular. Since then, due to personal changes in religion and such, I'm seeing it with different eyes. While it's still much, much better than most available for that, I do see a 'slight' Christian bias that wasn't so noticeable to me before.

 

I want a history book that doesn't come from a Catholic or Protestant or Christian or western worldview. Maybe a 'human' worldview. And I think it's impossible. It's very frustrating. I spend more time thinking about teaching history than any other subject, and it causes me the most frustration. That was until I heard about MCT, anyway.

 

Oh, and I was raised in the north and I remember Lee being held up as a hero; not because he was from the South but for reasons Christian morality and integrity. But I attended Catholic schools, so there's that bias again.

 

I will have to live off the sweat of others :D

 

I have NO IDEA about Middle School American History at this point. I have definitely not warmed up to Joy Hakim (the obvious choice, I suppose) in my limited readings of her materials. And when I say *limited*, it's not because I haven't tried a few times. I just find her patronizing writing style wearisome.

 

The recently departed Howard Zinn's "A Young People's History of the United States", is a possibility if used as a counter-balance to a more traditional history text, but I suspect I'd find it too "left" used on it's own. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his "People's History of the United States" as an adult, and felt it did a wonderful job of filling some of the "other side" of American History that is oft neglected, but "unbiased"? No.

 

So count me as :bigear:

 

Bill

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Consider the TRISMS history sequence. It is a research-based program, so the student can use source materials biased/slanted in whatever directions the family favors. (That is not a snide comment, btw.)

 

I've seen mention of TRISMS before, but I'd never actually looked at it. I always thought it was a Christian program; seems I was wrong.

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We're reading through a vintage book called The Golden History of the World by Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Cornelius Dewitt. From all that I have skimmed over so far, this book seems to give a pretty un-biased view of different events in world history.

 

For example, one of the chapters called "Lands Beyond the Seas" tells of Columbus having permission from the King and Queen to take some criminals from prison to fill out his crews. It is also mentioned that he "let his men enslave the friendly natives and make them work very hard at tasks which were strange to them." Hmm, I don't remember reading any of that in any of the books we've looked at so far---at least anything written for elementary-aged kids. This book is written for children, but so far it seems to call events in history even-handed. Yes, explorers weren't always trying to spread Christianity, and through time, people have always pretty much found ways to be cruel to each other.

 

I love the beautiful illustrations drawn by Mr. Dewitt, and I also enjoy the writing style of Ms. Jane Werner Watson. It's just right for us, illustrations and all (I know we're supposed to be getting away from them, but I'm a sucker for beautiful vintage artwork in books for children).

Edited by Poke Salad Annie
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I've seen mention of TRISMS before, but I'd never actually looked at it. I always thought it was a Christian program; seems I was wrong.

 

I think the authors of the program happen to be Christian. I often shy far away from Christian educational products because they require so much correcting for errors, or modification to be helpful for us. We have not used the TRISMS program much, because it is immensely labour-intensive for the student -- and for the teacher, if the student is not a self-starter type. Whatever the case, I don't remember reacting to the program as a "Christian" product. I visit the website sometime, dreaming of a child who shares my eclectic interest, and continue to feel impressed by the possibilities of the program, possibilities for any student of any religious (or non) persuasion.

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I think part of our problem is that we treat history as a science and expect that we will find truth, when I don't believe that we can. When we study chemistry, no matter what book we use, we will find the same formulas for the laws of physics, we will find the same periodic table, etc. That is truth, incontestable. With history, that is different. Regarding the conversation about Robert E. Lee - I disagree that he was evil. Sure, he upheld a cause that was evil, most of the confederate soldiers did. But, they were also family men, they loved their children, there were a lot of good people fighting for the South. And I cannot believe that all the Union soldiers were fighting against slavery. They may have supported slavery but were fighting to preserve the Union. You cannot say that just because a person owns slaves they are evil and because a person doesn't own slaves they are good. Now, don't get me wrong - I do believe that slavery is evil and wrong. However, that is painting with a very broad brush. As has been said before, history is always written from the perspective from the person writing it. Events are told with bias, no matter what and even if you are watching an event from the unbiased perspective of say... a hidden camera, you will interpret those events with your own bias. That's just the way it is. We all make judgements based on our own personal bias and if you think otherwise you're fooling yourself!

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I don't think it's possible to write a history without writing it from some perspective. We're all human and all come at life from some angle based on our life experiences. And I tend to also think that the reader is coming at the book from his/her own perspective and perhaps reads into the author's intent. (I would totally disagree with you about Robert E. Lee, for instance.)

 

Story of the World is an excellent jumping off point for history. I don't think it should be used alone, as I don't think any one book by a single author should be used alone. The best way to gain a landscape view of history is to read from a variety of authors and compare perspectives. SOTW contains much Biblical and church history and their reading lists provide ample extra reading on these topics, as well.

 

I've never liked either Abeka or BJU for history. Something like Joy Hakim's History of US, on the other hand, provides a good history of America. It's not going to include much from a Christian perspective, however, since it was originally written for public schools. And you're probably not going to agree with parts of it. And that's okay. We don't have to agree with every word we read in every book in order to read it. Reading, researching, and learning more about topics where we disagree is one of the best ways to learn.

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The Bible has a number of problems as a source of historical information. Of course, many people believe that the authors of the various books of the Bible were divinely inspired, and that therefore, the information contained within the Bible may have greater historical validity than we would attribute to a similar, but non-divinely-inspired text. I say "may have" because there is a great diversity of views even among those who are believers, so there are many Christians and Jews (I am not as familiar with the beliefs of Muslims) who believe that the Bible is divinely inspired, but nonetheless do not believe that all of the facts contained within it are historically true.

 

As a non-believer, I obviously do not believe that the information contained in the Bible has greater validity than other sources, and therefore would evaluate it based on the same criteria I would use to evaluate other sources. Some of those criteria would include:

 

* How long after the events in question did the author write the work? Did the author personally observe the events? What sources did he or she use?

* What corroboration of the events is available from other sources?

* What is the author's possible bias or agenda?

* Is the document authentic? That is, was it actually written by the person it is attributed to at the time when it purports to have been written?

* Is the original manuscript available, or are we relying on a later copy? Is it possible that changes were introduced in the copying process?

 

http://www.gnn.com/article/ancient-walls-may-offer-proof-of-bible/918501

 

There have been numerous archaeological findings that support the Bible's history. That link is one of them. Another example is that historians used to think that Belshazzar was fictional until evidence was found to support his existance as a ruler of Babylon. There have also been older scrolls found than what was previously available (such as the dead sea scrolls) and they were astounded at how accurate the copies were.

 

As for bias, I find it very comforting that the history of Israel in the Bible includes the faults of the king and includes details of battles that Israel lost. Many other cultures of the time were not so trustworthy in the writing of their history.

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It's just right for us, illustrations and all (I know we're supposed to be getting away from them, but I'm a sucker for beautiful vintage artwork in books for children).
What! Who says?

 

What about MOH, SOTW, WP, SL, MFW, or HOD?
I like these programs because you read from many books. I have heard that you get quite a different perspective from a couple of SL spines and that WP really balances out if you do all of the student reading as scheduled in the LA.
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I will have to live off the sweat of others :D

 

I have NO IDEA about Middle School American History at this point. I have definitely not warmed up to Joy Hakim (the obvious choice, I suppose) in my limited readings of her materials. And when I say *limited*, it's not because I haven't tried a few times. I just find her patronizing writing style wearisome.

 

I don't have to worry about middle school American history, because we're just finishing up 4 1/2 years of the stuff, and that's quite enough till high school. :tongue_smilie:

 

But if you don't like Hakim (and honestly I've never warmed to her books - hate they layout for one thing), I thought I might mention another series called the Drama of American History by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier. Much nicer layout and no sidebars, has color pictures, and they do get into the causes and effects of historical events.

 

Although as we approached modern US history and the middle school years, I didn't use the Collier books as much as I thought I would - I ended up more with awesome non-fiction books that just addressed the topic at hand but weren't necessarily part of a series. But that may be why it took me a ridiculous amount of time to get through US History. The Collier series would do it faster.

 

Now, as soon as I finish reading the kids a book entitled The End of the Cold War (such fun bedtime reading at our house!), it's off to Sumer for us. :D We're using K12's Human Odyssey as a spine, it looks wonderful!

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I don't have to worry about middle school American history, because we're just finishing up 4 1/2 years of the stuff, and that's quite enough till high school. :tongue_smilie:

 

But if you don't like Hakim (and honestly I've never warmed to her books - hate they layout for one thing), I thought I might mention another series called the Drama of American History by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier. Much nicer layout and no sidebars, has color pictures, and they do get into the causes and effects of historical events.

 

Although as we approached modern US history and the middle school years, I didn't use the Collier books as much as I thought I would - I ended up more with awesome non-fiction books that just addressed the topic at hand but weren't necessarily part of a series. But that may be why it took me a ridiculous amount of time to get through US History. The Collier series would do it faster.

 

Now, as soon as I finish reading the kids a book entitled The End of the Cold War (such fun bedtime reading at our house!), it's off to Sumer for us. :D We're using K12's Human Odyssey as a spine, it looks wonderful!

 

Thank you for mentioning the series the Drama of American History. I've never seen this previously, but it is available from my library system and I've ordered up the volumes on the Federal Era and the Civil War to read.

 

I appreciate it :001_smile:

 

Bill

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What's "no demerits" compared with being a traitor to your nation and leading a war in the defense of human slavery? A war that resulted in the loss of more than 600,000 lives.

 

Lee served the cause of evil. That makes him a very bad man.

 

Bill

 

And that is a fine example of why I rely more on a wide selection from real historians than just any ol' POV. ;)

 

a very neat person once said:

I don't like to see folks boil down something as complicated at the American Civil War into something as cut and dried as "bad slave states" vs. "good northern states" or "bad southern generals" vs. "good northern generals"..... Even Lincoln wanted to deport middle class blacks to Liberia.....and his belief/statement that "all men are created equal" proved false in his Emancipation Proclamation.

 

but SpyCar's post above begs an even deeper question:

if human slavery is pure evil, then certainly killing innocent humans on demand for convenience is evil too.

 

And people who lead the war to keep the ability to kill humans for convenience as a right --resulting in waaaay more than 600,000 dead, innocent humans-- must certainly be evil by that same simplistic standard, no?

 

Sounds like we would have lots of Very Bad People on this very board if we applied your black and white [no pun intended] philosophy to such a rich historical context.

 

I wonder what non-historians will say 200 hundred years from now about people who fight for the right to kill developing humans on demand for convenience. I certainly hope they are looking at the context of the culture and realizing that there are many more variables in play than where a Good Person stands on One Issue.

 

As staunch as i am about the issue of abortion, i realize that people who support it as a right are NOT Very Bad People.

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You know, having just read all the replies, it strikes me that many people read history as history. I'm probably not going to explain this well; please bear with me -- I'm only on my first cuppa this morning. :)

 

One of my favorite historians has a saying that we should try to read history forward -- meaning we should try to put ourselves into the minds and lives of the people living the events. Which, of course, brings us to primary documents (which others have already mentioned). The War is an interesting example. I refer to it as the War because even after, what, almost 150 years, we as a country still wrestle with many of the same issues as did the North and South. I think in order for anyone now to have a fuller understanding of the events of the past we must try to look at those events with fresh eyes. The Civil War is one of the best documented events in world history -- it's pretty easy to find source documents from many different points of view.

 

I think the best we can do is to not confine ourselves to whatever secondary or tertiary sources confirm our ingrained biases. But study primary documents -- even those which challenge our beliefs and our understanding.

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but SpyCar's post above begs an even deeper question:

if human slavery is pure evil, then certainly killing innocent humans on demand for convenience is evil too.

 

And people who lead the war to keep the ability to kill humans for convenience as a right --resulting in waaaay more than 600,000 dead, innocent humans-- must certainly be evil by that same simplistic standard, no?

 

Sounds like we would have lots of Very Bad People on this very board if we applied your black and white [no pun intended] philosophy to such a rich historical context.

 

I wonder what non-historians will say 200 hundred years from now about people who fight for the right to kill developing humans on demand for convenience. I certainly hope they are looking at the context of the culture and realizing that there are many more variables in play than where a Good Person stands on One Issue.

 

As staunch as i am about the issue of abortion, i realize that people who support it as a right are NOT Very Bad People.

 

Thank you Peek.

Here's some rep: images.jpg

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