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wendzu

How to acquire historical knowledge in order to introduce great books and the Bible

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So, I'm in awe of Josh Gibbs and how he is able to provide historical and cultural context before his students read a particular book.  In lieu of obtaining a degree in classics and history, how do I go about finding sound information to instruct my students in this manner?  I am a homeschool parent, so I would not have the luxury of building this knowledge over several years.  Any recommendations on books, websites, curriculum (Old Western Culture by Wes Callihan, maybe?) that would assist me in fulfilling this?  Can Mr. Gibbs just make a few homeschool courses, please?

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I agree! I follow everything he writes. But I know he has written somewhere that he doesn't read everything that's out there, but what he has read, he's read more than once and gone deeply with it. In one of the lectures he recommends two sources: The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity and History of Political Philosophy.

Angelina Stanford recommends always having a "guide" when teaching a book. She usually looks up C.S. Lewis and others of that caliber to see if they've written any commentary on whatever she's teaching - but she teaches medieval lit. But the idea is, you can do YouTube searches, and Google and go to places like this forum for each new book or topic you are covering. Over time you start to get a feel for what you need to intro something. But in the beginning you are learning with them, just like Josh described about his own journey. As you keep reading and researching and learning yourself you will get to the place you know what you need and what to review for a lesson. 

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I had the privilege of teaching alongside Josh during the four years we were at the same school. Observing him teach revealed a unique and hard to replicate aspect of his skill: he has a profound ability to do two things--first, to place a book into the story of its author's life, which then, second, becomes a story within the intellectual and social climate of the author's time. Josh's ability to tell stories means that he is able to take very few, but rich secondary sources and from them craft his own narrative for the book he is teaching. Instead of being encyclopedic (lots of historical and cultural background, which can then be "spotted" and "analyzed" when the book is read), Josh's approach immerses the students the way a movie does: through a series of scenes (complete with setting, characters, and their interactions) that can then be understood as a whole rather than analyzed in pieces.

I don't know if that makes much sense without watching him do it. I know it is even harder to replicate than to talk about.

On the other hand, I've seen other teachers who use sources very differently than Josh and with excellent results. The key seems to be combining quality teacher resources (primary and secondary sources) with the teacher's immersion in them (study) and then embodying the knowledge gained in a way suited to the teacher's gifts (preparation, reflection, revision).

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So, idle curiosity then. Are you in Pensacola? I know that's where Josh used to my. My son and daughter in law live there (as did I, for 13 years, up to 1997), and we'll probably be visiting the area during the next few months (travel plans still unformed).

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7 hours ago, KarenG said:

So, idle curiosity then. Are you in Pensacola? I know that's where Josh used to my. My son and daughter in law live there (as did I, for 13 years, up to 1997), and we'll probably be visiting the area during the next few months (travel plans still unformed).

Yes, the school I teach at is in Pensacola. I've been here since the 2010-2011 school year (I think Josh started there in 2008-2009?). If you want to drop in for a chat and see the school, look us up! Trinitas Christian School.

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