Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Medieval Times

For the past two weeks, I've complimented Alex's interest in Knights with some in depth study of the Middle Ages. We found a great list of Children's games from that time period: stilts, piggyback rides, wrestled, climbing trees, marbles, balls, hoops & sticks, make-believe swords, tag, leapfrog and hopscotch. Hannah invented her own hoops game by rolling my wooden bamboo steamer around the house.

One of the "unit studies" I'm working on is the History of Medicine. We found a great book called "Medieval Medicine and the Plague by Lynne Elliot. There's nothing like see a doctor with a giant bird beak designed to stop the plague germs with fresh smelling flowers.

Of course, many of the Medieval History books have a lot of anti-Christian bias. One of Alex's Knight books shows the graphic burning of the stake of heretics by the Knights of Templar. (Weren't these Knights the heroes that built the first set of hospitals?) Other books complain that women only wanted to become nuns to get out of marriage.

The great Caldecott Honor book, "Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction" by David Macaulay starts with these words: "For hundreds of years the people of Europe were taught by the church that God was the most important force in their lives. If they prospered, they thanked God for his kindness. If they suffered, they begged for God's mercy, for surely God was punishing them." pg 1. This book celebrates the mastery of Medieval Architecture while ridiculing the engineers "outdated" belief in the Divine.

My favorite anti-Catholic lines come from the Medieval Medicine book. "People in the Middle Ages were not sure what cause diseases, including the Black Death. Many of their ideas came from their religious beliefs. They believe that God sent illnesses as punishment for people's sins or to test their strength and faith. The cure was to pray to God or give charity to the poor. Other people's theories about illnesses were based on scientific ideas of the time. They thought that the movement of the planets caused bad air, which affected people's health and caused diseases." (I love that astrology is classified as "scientific" while caring for the state of the soul is "ridiculous.")

One fiction book we love is "Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess, Page" by Richard Platt. Fun illustrations, a poachers trial, and a jolly Saint Stephen's Day Party put us all back in time.

As a Catholic the study of the Middle Ages is fascinating, deep and familiar. This quote is from "Children and Games in the Middle Ages by Lynne Elliot. "The word "holiday" comes from "Holy Day", a special day in the Christian Church. Christmas and Easter were among the holiest days in medieval times." pg. 28. These days are still holy in my house. Here I thought I was living a retro 1950s life, but really I'm a 1050s type of gal!

Yet another reason that I'm happy to be teaching at home. Who knew anti-Christian bias in non-fiction history of the Middle Ages textbooks are as warped as the Marxist theories contained in 1950s Soviet history books?

1 comment:

  1. I’m a 1050’s kind of gal too. I’m watching the text books that my son is using at the Protestant school he attends for Catholic bias as well, and it’s there though not overt. I’m curious how the church will be treated in questions of pre reformation history. I’m thinking it will be a few years off, maybe Jr. High or so.

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