Thursday, September 26, 2013

Announcing our Revised and Expanded Early American History Study Guide!

Quick reminder we're offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $50! Only 2 days left! Use FREESHIP in the coupon code box.

It's here! Our revised and expanded Early American History Through Literature for grades 4-6!! We're very excited about the changes. Josh Berg and Rea worked together to make this guide more user-friendly and enjoyable! Several books were eliminated, lessons were expanded, links to interactive websites were added and much more! The most significant change is the addition of A Child's First Book of American History by Earl Schenck Miers. 

Now an integral part of our revised Early American Study Guide! 
This teacher's guide provides daily instruction in reading, notebooking, map-making, biblical principles, character studies, government, writing exercises and use of our Early American Time Line. Authors include such fine writers as Esther Forbes, Elizabeth Yates, James Daugherty, Jeri Ferris, Carl Sandburg, among others. Contains 101 lessons and it is suggested that 3 lessons be completed each week. See list below for new features! You may also click on the pictures below to see examples of lessons and assignments. 

*Beautiful full color layout including historic art, paintings, charts, and maps.
*Internet links throughout guide for further interest and enhanced study.
*Guide now includes an Answer Key.
*Many optional activities listed, especially having to do with geography.
*Expanded comprehension questions.
*Now features A Child's First Book of American History by Earl Schenck Miers.
*Biblical principles.
By purchasing this Guide you will receive a free download of the Early American Intermediate Picture Packet with corresponding clip art necessary for the study.

The study guide is available for instant download. For those of you who would prefer a hardcopy, those will be available in mid to late October. If you already own the old edition of the study guide, we are offering a special upgrade price of $10.00 to those of you who would like to replace your old guide. Just give us a call at 800.889.1978 and we'll be happy to process that for you.
Quick reminder, we're offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $50! Only 2 days left! Use FREESHIP in the coupon code box.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Keeping History Alive

Today The Atlantic has a fascinating article on the decline of social studies in US schools. "Bring Back Social Studies" makes the argument that our national fixation with math and science began in fear (as do most questionable endeavors) following Russia's successful launch of Sputnik. Amerians took this as a sign that we were falling behind and quickly poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the expansion of the hard sciences. Social science, the collective term for history, geography, and civics or government studies did not seem to suffer a reduction in face of the expansion of math and science until the implementation of No Child Left Behind. With school funding now tied to achievements in math and English, the social sciences took a direct hit. Now students spend only 7.6% of their time on social science! 

The Atlantic goes on to speak about the civic cost of this reduction.  "study from the Carnegie Corporation of New York found that students who receive effective education in social studies are more likely to vote, four times more likely to volunteer and work on community issues, and are generally more confident in their ability to communicate ideas with their elected representatives." Additionally, the reduction in social sciences disproportionately affects low-income schools as teachers at these schools focus more and more on tested subjects in order to maintain funding, history and geography become more and more neglected. This results in the unintended consequence of effectively disenfranchising these students as they never become educated in how our government works and how they can participate. "According to data from Associate Professor Meira Levinson of Harvard University, people living in families with incomes under $15,000 voted at just over half the rate of those living in families with incomes over $75,000."

In the face of these discouraging trends, it does my heart good to see our customers instilling a love of history and geography in their students. Recently several families have posted blogs featuring their work on BFB studies. 

The Story family has just finished up their unit on the Jamestown in our Early American History for Primary Grades. While reading through Pocahontas and Jamestown, New World Adventure, the Storys supplemented their notebook work and discussions with fun activities like building a Lego model of Jamestown! 
They discussed the differences between the gentlemen and laborers in Jamestown and how the unwillingness of the gentlemen was key to the near starving conditions in the settlement.

Additionally, the Story children figured out a sort of currency system based on the English settlers using beads to pay the Natives for land and other things. 
Making jewelry using Italian glass beads like those the settlers would have used to trade with the Indians. And check out their notebook work:

Another family is using our U.S. and World History Study Guide for high school. The first title read in the study is Uncle Tom's Cabin. This book is extremely challenging but worth the effort. In light of this there are some assignments in the study guide that simply have you read a chapter or two. During one of these lighter assignments, Ginger thought it would be a great idea to have her students, Bear and Artist, engage with the text in a personal way. In Chapter X, Uncle Tom is sold and forced to leave behind his family. Ginger had her children write a letter from Tom to his wife and children. What a wonderful way to create empathy and allow readers to reflect upon the story in a meaningful way. Here are the letters they wrote:

Here is Bear's letter

Chloe and Children
Its now time for me to say Goodbye to ya'll. Befar I leave I want to give you these last few words of advice. First off trust in God for if it is His will we will all be togather agin and if not in this world then in the next.
Boys mind your manners and tawk with respect to your betters especially your Mother and Masters and pray for me and them always. Also be kind to one another and help each other and grow up to be good men. Don't eat all the chicken that's cooked an help your ma all you can.
Chloe take good care of all the children and see they mind. Don't warry about me for one day we will both be with God. If possible I will try to come back to yall so as we can all be together again. 
Love yall and hope to see you again.

And Artist's letter

Dear Chloe and Chilrun,
I suppose now I must leave you and the boys. I know not where to I go, but I am in God's hands always.
Boys listen to your mother. Obey her and potect her. Try to remember what I've told you. Let your guiding principles be truth, justice, fairness, and honesty. Be strong, be men. I will remember you forever. Make me proud as you grow up. Perhaps in this life I shall see you, perhaps not. But if I don't I shall surely see you in heaven if you are Christians, which I believe you are.
Chloe, take care of childrun. Help them learn and make them mind you, I shall remember you too always. I love all of you and wish you would cope with your tragic loss of me well.
Uncle Tom

In the letters both Bear and Artist tried to use the dialect that Harriet Beecher Stowe used in the novel and I think they did a great job! They also paid close attention to Tom's character and were able to express thoughts he very well may have wanted to communicate to his children and wife. 

This family has also written about their experiences of notebooking through Island of the Blue Dolphins from our California History Study Guide and I would recommend checking that out here

I find all of this so inspiring and encouraging. It's wonderful to see students engaging with history and learning about those who came before us. An education in history, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the noble equips a student to be a well-rounded adult and engaged citizen. Learning how governments and nations are formed, about the ills that government sanctioned evil like slavery can inflict on an entire race of people, how people fought to change their nation for the better, and so much more is why we study history. While some students are not being given this education, the families above are part of the movement to preserve this knowledge and pass it on to another generation. And having fun doing it! 

If you would like to share your family's experience using BFB, please email me at rebecca (@) bfbooks (.) com. I would love to see your work! And if you have questions about teaching history using the best literature, click here.
And if you're waiting to place your order for this new school year, we're offering free shipping for all orders over $50.00 for a limited time only! Use the code "FREESHIP" when you check out.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Introducing our New Medieval History Guide for High School!

After more than two years in development, it's finally here! We're so excited to present our new and expanded Medieval History Through Literature for High School study guide. It's available for instant download here and hardcopies will be available for shipment at the beginning of October. (If you order the hardcopy and want to get started right away, we'll be happy to email you the first five weeks of lessons and notes.) 

The new guide is a journey through some of the best original source material available and is sure to spark your student's curiosity and imagination. Although many people have been taught that the period from 300 to 1522 A.D. was marked by darkness, ignorance, and struggle, this guide will show you that the opposite is true! Rich period literature will show you that it was a time when people were forming ideas that still impact us today. It was also a time of exciting discoveries, new innovations, and wonderful stories. Reading Beowulf will open student's eyes to the terrors of living under the threat of Viking raids. The Song of Roland provides a glimpse into the mores and ethics of a time where the concepts of chivalry were just developing. The story of William Wallace reveals a passionate love of liberty that we still find heroic today. You will also accompany Marco Polo on his travels through Asia, witnessing sights never imagined by the western mind. Songs, hymns, and creeds will give you insight into the religious beliefs of people who lived over 1500 years ago! In this course students will learn about King John, King Arthur, Saladin, Queen Eleanor, Joan of Arc, Shahrazad, Marco Polo, Peter Abelard, Geoffrey Chaucer and many others. They will learn about Martin Luther who revealed a new way to approach God and about John Wycliffe who organized the Bible. Students will read about the life of Columbus, whose discovery of North America changed the world forever. By reading some of the best literature on the subject, students will be encouraged to discuss new ideas and social changes. Links to websites, hands-on activities, discussion questions, mapping activities and much more will bring the Middle Ages to life. Set up in 35 weekly lessons, this study guide provides everything you need to complete an exciting literature based history course.

Here's a listing of the literature used in this course, including our new Medieval Anthology, produced specifically to go with this study. All items are available in our discounted Medieval History Senior High Pack

An Anthology of Medieval Literature - edited by Rebecca Berg Manor
Beautiful Feet Books and Rebecca Manor's Anthology of Medieval Literature traces the development of thought and culture in Europe from the fourth century up through the 1300s. Beginning with excerpts of Augustine's Confessions and culminating with selections from Dante's Divine Comedy, students will trade medieval culture from the beginnings of Christendom to the Age of Exploration. Selections from major works such as The Song of Roland, Marco Polo's Book of Wonders, and The Deeds of Charlemagne are included along with poems, creeds, hymns, and selections from medieval thinkers like Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas. For use with the Beautiful Feet Books' Literature Approach to Medieval History study guide, this anthology will provide high school level students with an introductory survey of some of the greatest literature works of western civilization.

The Medieval World: An Illustrated Atlas - edited by John M. Thompson
Sumptuously illustrating the vivid parade of a thousand years of history, this comprehensive historical atlas concentrates on the Mediterranean world but also shows what happened across the globe between A.D. 400 and 1500 —from the fall of Rome to the age of discovery. Every page glistens with period works of art, fascinating maps, quotes from medieval figures, close-ups of intriguing artifacts, and rich landscape photographs of the places where battles were fought and monarchs were crowned. For every century, a signature city is spotlighted to represent that era's developments. Time lines connect the many dramatic events that took place in these dark and exciting times, which continue to shape our world today. Written by a team of veteran National Geographic writers, this richly illustrated reference includes full index, reading list, and glossary.

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation - by Seamus Heaney
In 5th century Denmark, a murderous monster stalks the night, and only the great prince of the Geats has the strength and courage to defeat him. The story of Beowulf's terrifying quest to destroy the foul fiend Grendel, his mother–a hideous sea-hag, and a monstrous fire-dragon, is the oldest surviving epic in English literature. Beautifully translated and updated by the brilliant linguist Seamus Heaney.
"A faithful rendering that is simultaneously an original and gripping poem in its own right." —New York Times Book Review

One Thousand and One Arabian Nights - Geraldine McCaughrean
A completely original version of the Arabian Nights by award-winning author Geraldine McCaughrean. In order to delay her inevitable execution, Queen Shahrazad tells her murdering husband, King Shahryar, a wonderfully exciting story every night. The brilliant storyteller preserves her life while relating tales of intrigue, adventure, and duplicity. A delightful window into the Persian world.

Joan of Arc - by Mark Twain
Very few people know that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote a major work on Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important but also his best work. He spent twelve years in research and many months in France doing archival work and then made several attempts until he felt he finally had the story he wanted to tell. He reached his conclusion about Joan's unique place in history only after studying in detail accounts written by both sides, the French and the English. Because of Mark Twain's antipathy to institutional religion, one might expect an anti-Catholic bias toward Joan or at least toward the bishops and theologians who condemned her. Instead one finds a remarkably accurate biography of the life and mission of Joan of Arc told by one of this country's greatest storytellers. The very fact that Mark Twain wrote this book and wrote it the way he did is a powerful testimony to the attractive power of the Catholic Church's saints. This is a book that really will inform and inspire.

Canterbury Tales - by Geoffrey Chaucer
Lively, absorbing, often outrageously funny, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is a work of genius, an undisputed classic that has held a special appeal for each generation of readers. The Tales gathers twenty-nine of literature’s most enduring (and endearing) characters in a vivid group portrait that captures the full spectrum of medieval society, from the exalted Knight to the humble Plowman. For advanced readers due to difficult language and mature content.

Scottish Chiefs - by Jane Porter
This magnificent book tells the story of the brave Scots who rebelled against the tyranny of King Edward during the period of 1296 - 1305. This inspiring tale of courage has been a favorite for generations of readers. The story of William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and the brave Scots who stood up to English tyranny is sure to become a favorite!

The Magna Charta - by James Daugherty
It was Ben Franklin who coined the phrase, "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God," and if any historical drama fulfills that maxim, it is surely the saga of King John and the drafting of the Magna Charta. Out of the rich turbulence of English history, June 15, 1215 stands apart as a significant milestone in the progress of human liberty. On that day, a brave band of barons, led by the noble Stephen Langton, and calling themselves the Army of God, stood up to the wicked King John and demanded that he restore the ancient laws of England that he had so unabashedly trampled underfoot. The era is a rollicking one filled with colorful characters like Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Richard the Lionheart, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, and many more. Newbery and Caldecott medal-winner James Daugherty brings his own passion for freedom's story to this wonderful saga of the thirteenth century. Daugherty devotes the last part of the book to a history of the "documents" of freedom—what he calls the "Children of the Magna Charta"—demonstrating how liberty has progressed over the ages. Two-color illustrations by the author enhance the drama of this text.

The World of Columbus and Sons - by Genevieve Foster
This is the story of a wonderful, changing, reawakening world—the world of the Renaissance and Reformation. Measured by the lifetime of Columbus and his sons, this book spans the years from 1451-1539. With Columbus as the central figure of this narrative, readers will also learn the fascinating stories of Prince Henry the Navigator, Ivan III of Russia, Gutenberg, Queen Isabella, Leonardo da Vinci, Mohammed II, the African ruler Nomi Mansa, Martin Luther, Erasmus, Albrecht Dürer, Copernicus, Michaelangelo and many others. Told in Foster's engaging and winsome style enhanced by her helpful chronologies and timelines, readers will learn of the religious, cultural and scientific changes that ushered in a new frontier of exploration and discovery.

This period in history is so exciting and it is my hope that this full-color guide will open up new worlds to you and your students! It is a high school level course and the guide is structured to allow for you to personalize it to each student. It is formatted in 35 weekly lessons with reading assignments, mapping activities, research and discussion topics, hands-on and craft suggestions, vocabulary lists and much more. Knowing that each student is different, I have tried to set it up to allow you to personalize the study to your student's unique needs. Each assignment has been carefully constructed to provide opportunities for each student to personalize the study. One thing that I try to emphasize in the guide is the fact that it is a guide and it's supposed to make your job easier, not harder! It's chock full of ideas and activities but they're not all required. The focus should be the literature, not checking off every single activity. The activities are there to enrich your study, so pick and choose according to the educational needs and interests of your students. Have fun with it!"

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Working out the new school year kinks

Just like many of you, we are working on getting things set up for the new school year and have a few updates to share with you.

1. Free downloads for our Early American History study guides are now available for instant access! You no longer need to enter payment information, just click on the links and they'll be instantly downloaded to your desktop. To access free instant downloads of the notebooking pages click here or visit the specific links below:

Early American History Primary notebooking pages

Early American History Intermediate notebooking pages

2. Our Articles Page has been fully updated to provide you with information on educational trends, inspire you in your teaching journey, and provide food for thought. You'll find some of our most popular and provocative blog posts all in one place along with information on the Charlotte Mason method, teaching history using literature, and much more. Click here to access it.

3. We've updated our Pinterest boards. Check them out for more activities, resources, etc.

4. The new Sr. High Medieval History Study Guide will be available for download tomorrow! We're very excited about this new edition. Check back here tomorrow for more details. Printed copies will be available in October.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The False Idol of Self-Esteem

A little over 10 months ago, we featured an article here that spoke to the value of struggle. While at first glance it may seem unkind, especially in our self-esteem driven culture, many of you agreed that challenging children and students is important. One of the key points was our cultural devaluing of what it means to struggle. As quoted in the post, Jim Stigler, a professor of psychology at UCLA who has studied teaching and learning around the world stated "I think that from very early ages we [in America] see struggle as an indicator that you're just not very smart," Stigler says. "It's a sign of low ability — people who are smart don't struggle, they just naturally get it, that's our folk theory. Whereas in Asian cultures they tend to see struggle more as an opportunity." Now further research is backing up Stigler's theory and even showing how damaging our emphasis on building "self esteem" can be to children.

In New York Magazine's article "How Not To Talk to Your Kids: The inverse power of praise", writer Po Bronson investigates the affirmative culture we have worked hard to create over the past 15-20 years and sorts through the research to reveal its true effects on children. It is fascinating and, frankly, alarming.

The idea that self-esteem is of significant importance in a child's development is a relatively new idea. The theory gained prominence in 1960 when Nathaniel Branden stated in The Psychology of Self-Esteem that self-esteem was the "integrated sum of self-confidence and self-respect" and was of utmost importance in a person's development and success. Branden is crediting with bringing the idea of self-esteem to the mainstream and initiating a culture in which children were affirmed relentlessly by their parents. Children are now commonly told they are "smart" regardless of any evidence to support the claim.  

The article is worth reading in its entirety and I would highly recommend spending the time to do so. There are a few points that stood out to me and for those of you who do not have time to read the article, I will summarize here. 

First, one unforeseen consequence of this movement has been the valuing of natural intelligence over effort. Highly intelligent children who are routinely told they are smart often end up with poorly developed academic skills because effort is seen as less important than easy comprehension. As educational researcher Carol Dweck discovered "those who think that innate intelligence is the key to success begin to discount the importance of effort. I am smart, the kids’ reasoning goes; I don’t need to put out effort. Expending effort becomes stigmatized—it’s public proof that you can’t cut it on your natural gifts."

Classrooms where an alternative approach is adopted and effort is emphasized and affirmed over natural talent have found that students ultimately perform better, are more well-rounded and empathetic, and have a higher confidence in their abilities. On the other hand "scholars found consistent correlations between a liberal use of praise and students’ 'shorter task persistence, more eye-checking with the teacher, and inflected speech such that answers have the intonation of questions.'” This seems to indicate that highly gifted children who have perceived that their value comes from this innate talent begin internalizing this belief and devote more of their energy to maintaining the idea that they are smart than to developing the skills they need to succeed academically. This can prove to be very damaging. One researcher observed that 

..research on overpraised kids strongly suggests that image maintenance becomes their primary concern—they are more competitive and more interested in tearing others down. A raft of very alarming studies illustrate this...Students turn to cheating because they haven’t developed a strategy for handling failure. The problem is compounded when a parent ignores a child’s failures and insists he’ll do better next time. Michigan scholar Jennifer Crocker studies this exact scenario and explains that the child may come to believe failure is something so terrible, the family can’t acknowledge its existence. A child deprived of the opportunity to discuss mistakes can’t learn from them.

One researcher cut through to the heart of the issue in seeing that this cult of self-esteem probably has more to do with adults' need to affirm their children's success more than the child's need for frequent praise. Children are skeptical of unearned accolades and begin questioning them as early as age seven! This shows that empty compliments do not convince young children and may just increase the pressure they feel to prove how "smart" they are while further discounting effort. Bronson puts it well: "Offering praise has become a sort of panacea for the anxieties of modern parenting. Out of our children’s lives from breakfast to dinner, we turn it up a notch when we get home. In those few hours together, we want them to hear the things we can’t say during the day—We are in your corner, we are here for you, we believe in you."

For parents who choose to educate their children at home, that pressure can be amplified. Questions ranging from whether you've made the right curriculum decisions to wondering if your child is "on-track" with his public school peers and dealing with possible disapproval from friends and relatives can cause a lot of anxiety for a homeschooling parent. Ultimately I think that this article should provide a lot of comfort to you. Encouraging hard work will ultimately pay rewards not only in the academic sphere; it builds character and a foundation of self-worth grounded in effort and work. It also removes the pressure of feeling as though your child's self-esteem is entirely dependent upon how much you affirm him or tell her she is smart. Encouraging your child's efforts (not just outcomes) will be more sincere and more valuable to that child. This sort of atmosphere will not only encourage your child to explore and create, it will make it safer for your child to make mistakes. It will make risk less scary as the emphasis will not be on finding the right answer, but in exploring problems and situations from different points-of-view, and thus coming up with solutions that are more carefully considered and understood. This will open up new opportunities for discussion and exchange and a more enriching educational experience.

I would love to hear from you! What do you think?

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Thursday, September 05, 2013

Defending Education for Women and Girls

In recent years I've noticed a fringe movement within more conservative circles that seems to espouse the idea that girls who have graduated from high school ought to remain at home until they are married, foregoing a college education. The arguments for this position seem to center on the belief that a woman's sphere of influence is the home and she should focus her energies on preparing to be a wife and mother. Interestingly, a journalist from the left-leaning U.K. newspaper, The Guardian, recently made a similar argument in her piece “Female Ivy League Graduates Have a Duty to Stay in the Workforce.” From a purely utilitarian standpoint, the author Kelly Goff, argues that women who choose to stay at home with their children after receiving an elite education have wasted an opportunity that another woman would have used more effectively. Interestingly, the people who argue that women should remain at home, forgoing college and graduate level education, have something in common with the utilitarian arguments of Goff. Basically both come at their positions through utility arguments: unless an education is going to be used for a career, it's wasted.

Personally I find both positions short-sighted and poorly conceived. I believe that both sides have bought into an educational philosophy that sees education merely as a means to an end. This view of education is one that has permeated our culture over the past century and has resulted in failed educational policies, poorly constructed reform measures, and fed the industrial model of education. When one takes the position that education is the method by which one achieves a career or job, the entire point of education is missed. Yes, being trained in a vocation is a necessary part of education but it is not the end goal. A true education is one that shapes the soul, creates conviction, and enriches one's experience of life. The person who benefits from such an education affects those around him or her in ways that are profound and meaningful. These are not skills that are easily listed on a CV but they are the qualities that give meaning to life. Our 21st century scientific mindset is closed to the intangibles, failing to value human development that cannot be measured by a test. This obsession with quantifiable value has interestingly led to the agreement between more conservative fundamentalist Christians and utilitarian liberals that we see above. And, interestingly, both miss the point, and end up at the same misguided (and sexist) conclusion.

In a refreshing post on the topic, Anne-Marie Maginnis makes a wonderful case defending her Ivy League education and choice to stay at home with her children. She beautifully articulates the frustration faced by many well-educated stay-at-home moms; feeling the need to defend their education is a situation that disproportionately affects women. Men rarely need to defend their educations but women who make the choice to stay at home raising children often do. The very fact that they feel the need to explain why their college or graduate education was useful shows just how deeply we have internalized the idea that education's only purpose is its use in a career.

Maginnis' article also emphasizes the value her education has had in equipping her to impact her children's lives. She's able to introduce her children to the best books, to teach them critical thinking skills, to open worlds that someone less trained would be unable to. And this hints at one of the best arguments for educating women I can put forth. As heirs of a tradition rich in meaning and value, we have a responsibility to preserve that tradition for future generations. Sadly, the past century has seen a marked devaluing of traditions. We've adopted a throw-away culture that values the lessons of the past less and less and thinks little of leaving something for the generations that come after us. The idea of heirlooms is one that seems antiquated. Buildings are built to last for 30 years unlike the sturdy stone structures of yesteryear. And we are treating our cultural inheritance the same way. By arbitrarily stating that it is a waste of resources for a woman to pursue an education past high school, one is effectively eliminating half the population from the task of preserving our past. In her beautiful essay, "The Necessity of the Classics", Louise Cowan speaks of the value of the great books of the West:
"This body of writing, until recently considered the very center of European and American education, has stood guard over the march of Western civilization, preserving its ideals of truth and justice, whatever its lapses may have been. And the later writers included in this remarkable group of texts have continued the unsparing examination of the conscience that the Greeks inaugurated three thousand years ago...To be ignorant of Homer, Aeschylus, and Sophocles is to be ignorant of the range and depth of human possibility."
The greatest danger I see in taking a stance that higher education is unimportant for women who want to stay at home is an internalization by those women of the notion that great ideas and discussions are unnecessary and unimportant to their lives. Granted, many colleges fail at providing an education rich in literature and historic ideals, but it still remains that for most people it is at college where their first exposure to these essentials will take place. Exceptionally lucky students will be introduced to philosophy and literature in high school, hopefully igniting a passion for these subjects that will carry on throughout their lives. But these are the very few. For the rest of students, male and female, higher education is a unique period of time where one can immerse oneself in the literature and history that shapes us and our culture. To arbitrarily bar one half of the population not only does those individuals a disservice, it threatens our ability to carry on this tradition to the next generation. Yes, some people will be able to educate themselves through independent reading and analysis, but most people benefit from the tools acquired in rigorous pursuit of graduate and post-graduate studies. Good professors provide intellectual stimulation and critical exchange rarely encountered outside the classroom. Logic and critical thinking skills are rarely present at birth, they are skills that are taught and learned through discipline and rigorous study. And in a world obsessed with the frivolous and temporal providing our children (girls and boys) with educations rooted in the eternal and foundational is essential.

This is not to say that a college education is the only means by which one can become an educated person or an agent of cultural preservation. Nor is it a criticism of those women who are doing an exceptional job of educating their children without possessing a degree themselves. It is not the degree that I am defending or advocating for. I simply think that in this time and place it's discouraging that within some circles women are having to justify their desire to pursue higher education. I do not find this to be a reflection of some return to "traditional values" or a position defensible by utility arguments. I simply find it ultimately untenable and threatening to our ability to carry on a tradition of good, true, and beautiful ideas.

Do you have thoughts on this topic? Please feel free to chime in below!

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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Back to School! Resources to make your life easier.

While some families have been in school for a few weeks already, the majority of you are starting school today! Here are BFB we're excited for you and your students. We're here to support you in any way we can and look forward to hearing about your experiences this year.

For everyone using a BFB curriculum we'd like to remind you of some resources available to make your life a bit easier and ensure you have a great experience teaching history using the best literature available!

Free Resources

1. Free downloads for students using our Early American History for Primary grades. 

2. Answers to your FAQs are available here and here.

3. A listing of each book required for our primary and intermediate level programs is available here. Jr. and Sr. High book lists are available here.

4. If you have questions for other parents and teachers who use BFB, I would definitely recommend joining the BFB Users Group. It's run by the wonderful Samantha, a homeschooling mom, and is an amazing resource. The parents on this group are wonderfully encouraging and gracious and generous with their time. This page is entirely run by volunteers.

5. Additionally, the BFB Facebook Page is a great place to post questions, hear about sales and special offers, and see what other BFB customers are doing.

6. Study guide sample pages are available here.

7. The most popular and inspiring articles from BFB are all available here.

8. Us! We're here to help. So feel free to email or call with questions. You can email us at Call us at 800.889.1978, post a question on the Facebook page, or leave a comment below.

9. And be sure to subscribe to this blog. We have some great articles coming up! Future topics include defending education for women, the false idol of self-esteem, and much more. Here's to a great new school year and getting to know one another a little better in this educational adventure.

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