Since a number of you have read my article in this summer’s edition of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, “Crossing the Educational Rubicon: Charlotte Mason through High School” some questions have been posed to me since the article has variations from my Ancient History Through Literature Study Guide. So I will clarify some things here as well as give you some things to be looking for as the upcoming school year unfolds.
First of all, the Ancient History Study Guide will stand quite well on its own, and there is no need to supplement or enhance unless you chose to do so. Since my experience in teaching these various subject areas is always evolving and since the world of book publishing is continually changing, I often discover new jewels that can be added to a particular historical period that either weren’t available when I wrote the guide or I just didn’t have the knowledge or confidence to attempt them. Such is the case regarding the ancient period, as in the last few years countless titles have come out for young people on the various topics related to the classical world of ancient Sumer, Egypt, Greece and Rome.
Also, I recently had the privilege of working with a wonderful and experienced teacher team-teaching this period to a class of high school girls! That aroused a whole new level of research, interest, and delight in discovering the treasures of the ancients. One work that was particularly meaningful was the Epic of Gilgamesh by Geraldine McCaughrean. McCaughrean–a British author, has been awarded the Whitbread Prize on the three occasions, as well as the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award. As a contemporary children’s author you cannot attain a much higher level of honor and recognition for a body of work. So I recommend her highly and in the case of the Epic of Gilgamesh, she offers a wonderful way to introduce this historical work to your student in her book, Gilgamesh the Hero.
In the world of epic literature, Gilgamesh stands as the very first, and as a literary work offers a valuable way to introduce and learn the stages of the heroic quest (also referred to as the Hero’s Journey), a series of events that every heroic figure must go through to apotheosis or catharsis. Once you’ve learned the hero’s quest you will never look at literature in the same way. Indeed, analyzing heroic figures from the Bible takes on a richer and deeper meaning as well. See my previous blog posting entitled “What is the Heroic Quest? under Ancient History. So for those introducing this for the first time I recommend McCaughrean’s book or those teaching high school level can opt for a recent translation by David Ferry. Do preview before delving into this with your student. Now, the exciting part is that in 3-4 weeks we will be offering a downloadable ebook with study notes for this epic which will make this approachable and user friendly. So watch the blog for announcements. We will also be working on notes for the Stanley Lombardo translations of both the Iliad and the Odyssey and making those available in the fall as well. I will continue to post more on this topic in the coming days related to teaching this at the high school level and using the works of Edith Hamilton and Stanley Lombardo for those teaching at the high school level.