Using the British Middle Ages
Yet another purpose of a history notebook is to keep track of Book Selections and Weekly Reading assignments. The Preparation and Scheduling section of the Curriculum User Guide discusses how to use these forms to keep account of student progress. Several copies of each of these forms should be printed and placed in each student's history notebooks. They will be used to keep track of reading progress on a regular basis.
Once a history notebook has been prepared, the task of selecting your student's individualized reading assignment remains. As explained in the Curriculum User Guide, each student is expected to read history for approximately three hours per week. Instead of studying from a single textbook however, he can read any of a number of books on the subject. He is even allowed a certain amount of time to read history books of his own choosing, even if they have nothing to do with British history.
A certain number of core selections, which cover the fundamentals of British History, are assigned to all students according to reading level. Once they have completed their core reading students can make their own choice of books from a list of supplemental texts. Supplemental selections can be biographies, episodic histories, folklore, or even historical fiction. In addition to these books, each student is allowed to make several free-reading selections during the year on any historical topic that interests him, either from one of Heritage History's libraries, or from some other high-quality source.
In order to help students and instructors make age and interest appropriate selections from within our libraries, Heritage provides Books Summaries and Series Descriptions for each library. The Book Summaries page provides a brief synopsis of every book in in the British Library, while the Series Descriptions provide information about the author and other available volumes for each book in the British Middle Ages collection that is part of a larger series. For most students, taking some time to familiarize themselves with the whole collection can be an enjoyable and educational venture.
It is not necessary to select an entire years' worth of books ahead of time. We recommend selecting only two or so books from each category (core, supplemental, free-reading) to get started. Students can add more books later on, as they finish their first selections. It is important that students have a range of books to choose from so that reading history never becomes tedious.
The final step in using the Heritage curriculum is simply to make sure that students read their assigned history books on a regular basis. Many students enjoy reading history, but even the best readers are likely to neglect the subject if it is not part of their regular study schedule.
An important part of the Heritage program is reviewing material. At least two comprehensive histories are usually assigned as core reading, so students are exposed to the major events in each civilization by at least two authors. In addition, students typically read several other biographies or episodic histories that provide depth as well as breadth.
The object of the Heritage program of study is to make the process of learning history as stress free and enjoyable as possible. Some subjects, such as math and foreign languages, cannot possibly be mastered without rigorous effort and written work, but history can be learned very well simply by reading high quality books. Even students who dislike writing and rote memorization are able to absorb a great deal of historical information simply by reading.
We believe that reading history can be a favorite pastime for anyone. History programs that fail to teach a love for history miss the most important lesson of all.