This is Part 10 in a series about Homeschooling High School and is now part of my new ebook – Homeschooling High School – It’s Not As Hard As You Think. You can sign up for my daily or weekly posts delivered to your email inbox so you don’t miss out on any future Sweetness.
What exactly are the Humanities, you might ask?
In my day, (for a little cliche) the humanities were called “social studies” which always makes me cringe as a homeschooling mom, because what really IS “social studies”? It’s history classes right? Well, yes, and no.
According to wikipedia, the humanities are academic disciplines that study human culture. The humanities use methods that are primarily critical, or speculative, and have a significant historical element — as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences.
Stanford University claims the humanities can be described as the study of how people process and document the human experience. Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world…
Okay, so it’s a little bit of everything then.
I appreciate the “natural history” reference, and that we are encouraged to approach the humanities in a more critical or speculative style, than merely just looking at it as “social studies”.
For our purposes today, we are going to focus our Approach to the Humanities for High School by looking at a few options to give us a well-rounded, or, as Charlotte Mason would say, a “generous and liberal education“. And for my high school students we give way to art, literature, history and philosophy (mainly in light of religious studies) and languages for our broad spectrum approach.
NB: *Remember to check your school district’s requirements for high school graduation as to “what” constitutes a humanities credit as many courses may crossover in terms of fulfilling these types of classes. Do this before they begin high school if possible, or well before senior year. You could also check prospective colleges for their entrance requirements as well.
Here is a look at the classes we included in my daughter’s High School Humanities credits:
- American History & Geography
- Literature Studies
- British Middle Ages
- Modern American History
- Literature Studies
- Ancient World History (Great Books Study)
- Art History
- Archaeological Survey of Old & New Testaments
- College Elementary French
- American Government & Economics
- Literature Studies
- World Cultures & Geography
As you can see by our list here, there is a wide variety of subjects and classes that cover what we chose for Humanities. Because the Humanities encompasses such a broad subject area, it can be easy to get carried away with cramming in too much for the high school years. However, a lot of material can actually be covered with a liberal arts education. As we saw in our ideas on How to Approach Language Arts, there will be quite a bit of crossover and melding of the different disciplines within the Humanities umbrella.
For example —
During my daughter’s Junior year, she focused the bulk of her studies under the umbrella of the Great Books. Many different subjects were covered through the thorough reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing about the excellent literature she was consuming. She covered literature, art, history, and philosophy just within this full year study. She also chose to add in a few electives that you can see above to supplement her learning for an excellent representation of Humanities credits.
So, creativity is welcome here. Let your student take the lead in helping you map out their study of the Humanities. If your student is a “history buff”, then by all means expand on that theme and roll all your humanities in to the history bundle, including languages and art, literature and religion or philosophy, geography studies, etc.
You can’t go wrong with a generous and liberal education. In fact, some would say, that by giving your child an excellent foundation in a liberal arts education, will set them up for life.
So do we teach with STEM in mind, or go with a generous well-rounded study of the foundations of our society and it’s systems? With technology at our fingertips, I think it’s possible to blend them together and give our students the edge they will need to complete their High School experience with confidence and success.
Here’s a few general thoughts about teaching (or learning) the Humanities.
- The lessons of the humanities are many and varied, and they do not necessarily comprise a unified or one-dimensional worldview. (Much as some textbooks would like you to believe).
- There is no guarantee that an extensive humanities curriculum will make us more moral, or moral at all. (Philosophy 101 anyone?)
- The humanities can and do speak to us, and can offer our imaginations those situations that we have not yet, and may never experience, unless we are willing to delve deeply in to some excellent literature and expand our minds.
- Give your student time to immerse themselves in to their humanities subjects and let the discussions ensue.
- Consider letting your student’s humanities studies overlap and let them linger — there is no time table other than graduation, so a two to three year course can work to their benefit.
How will you approach the Humanities for High School?
Please share your ideas with us.
**If you are interested in seeing what materials we used for any of the Humanities courses listed above, please feel free to email me or leave a comment and I can give you more specifics and links to our resources.
I am ready to answer your questions, encourage you and share more of what has worked for us. Please let me know how I can help.
Next Up – Discussion is the Key to Success in High School
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