Archive for July, 2007

Powell History is now offering five amazing options for adults who want to make up for lost time and gain the mastery of history that public education and academia just can’t offer you. 

The following five options can match any level of interest, expertise, and any budget!

  1. A First History for Adults, Part 1: The Story of America (Reviewed Here, special payment plans available until August 1!)
  2. History At Our House, the Junior High program (a great way to get the education you should have when you were younger!)
  3. History At Our House, the High School program (a unique presentation, including seminars on “primary sources”)
  4. History At Our House, History Through Art (an amazing way to enjoy history and visual art, for only $10/month!)
  5. A First History for Adults, Special Course: The Islamist Entanglement (Learn the crucial context that brought us to the “War on Terror”.)

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How did we become “bogged down” in the quagmire of the Middle East, and how do we restore a policy of self-interest in America’s foreign relations?

Americans once proudly guarded their independence and self-interest.

In the Barbary War of 1801-1805, the United States answered attacks on its citizens by Muslim pirates with a decisive military response, even though the country was barely a fledgling power at the time.

Throughout the “Founding Era,” America’s presidents demonstrated a heroic determination to guard America’s interests. They were even willing to fight Great Britain (then the world’s superpower) in the War of 1812 to protect Americans’ rights, and later to defy the world’s great empires by establishing the Monroe Doctrine of American self-interest.

Sadly, America has turned away from this posture and become entangled in what seems to be an inescapable web of “internationalism.”

In the Islamist Entanglement—the latest installment of the acclaimed A First History for Adults™ curriculum—we will examine the historical roots of America’s plight. Students will learn how the modern Middle East was formed, what ideological forces have shaped its development, and what woeful role the United States has played in creating the ominous situation that now confronts us.

Six Culprits

Six Culprits (Among Many) in America’s Decline

The course begins in January of 2008. It includes:

  • 10 exciting weekly lectures, totaling over 15 hours of instruction
  • the option of live teleseminar attendance
  • MP3 recordings of classes, for easy downloading onto your iPod!
  • specialized integration techniques to boost understanding and retention
  • free web-based lecture repeats and reviews on demand

For more information, stay tuned to PHR, and visit www.PowellHistory.com/IE.

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My lecture on “The State of History,” offered to an audience of homeschooling parents on July 23rd, is now available on-line at: www.historyatourhouse.com.

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This Monday, July 23, I will begin hosting a teleconference lecture series for homeschooling parents and educators.   I would like to invite anyone who is interested to learn why the quality of history teaching has continually declined since the early twentieth century, and why, as a result, children now almost universally complain that history is boring and irrelevant, to attend.

The dismal state of history today can be explained, ironically enough, by history. 

A proper, critical analysis of the changing trends in the philosophy of history, which underpins and guides the activities of historians, shows how, during the nineteenth century, history ceased to be a science that instructs humankind through reasoned example, and was remade into two different, but equally flawed pursuits: 1) a “pure science”–whose investigations are divorced from any practical application, and 2) a weapon for propagandists, who wish to wield it solely for political purposes.  

Homeschoolers and history teachers cannot afford to wade unknowingly into this ideological arena. They will either present their students with a body of knowledge, the significance of which they cannot validate, or fall prey to a slanted presentation whose aim is to inculcate values that they would not otherwise chose to transmit. In these approaches history does not serve its actual purpose, which is to demonstrate the causes and consequences of ideas in the world.

History can be a science. It can be an invaluable science. For that to happen, however, history has to be restored to its proper role in the education of young minds, and that requires an awareness among history providers–whether experts, or moms taking over for the experts who aren’t doing their job–of how things went wrong in the first place.

“The State of History” is the first installment of a monthly lecture series, courtesy of HistoryAtOurHouse. Interested parents, homeschool teachers, and educators can sign up by contacting seminars@historyatourhouse.com.

Further information on the lecture series, including the sure-to-be-controversial ‘Lies a Liar Told Me About My Teacher!” (coming in August) can be found at: www.historyatourhouse.com/main/freeseminars.html.

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With my course on European History just around the corner, I wanted to provide students (and others) with a chance to pick up the best history books that you can use to follow-up on the material independently.

My list of the top ten history books on European history begins with #10, Willis Mason West’s “Early Progress.”

West’s “Modern Progress“, which I’ve recommended before, is perhaps my favorite history book.  It does more to render the story of Western civilization accessible than any other work. But “Modern Progress” spends very little time on the early history of Europe; it deals almost exclusively with  developments after the Reformation.  That’s why I also recommend West’s “Early Progress.”

The main focus of this complementary volume is Ancient history, but a sizeable portion of the book is dedicated to Rome around the time of the Fall of the Western Empire, to the rise of Christendom during the Dark Ages, the establishment of the different feudal monarchies of Europe, and the torturously slow progress of man through the Middle Ages.

The main strength of the book is its flowing narrative and avoidance of minutiae–which it shares with “Modern Progress”–but “Early Progress” has one advantage over its companion volume.  Since it doesn’t deal with modern history, its narrative is not as colored by misinterpretations of contemporary topics, which tend to mar the latter part of “Modern Progress.”

You can find “Early Progress” at either Amazon.Com or Abebooks.Com.

For those who are interested in more recommendations, #9 on my list goes out tonight, exclusively in my newsletter. (Sign up here!)  #8 will show up here in a little while.

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Part 3 of 5: Europe Today 

In Part 1 of WSEH, I discussed the “Eur-Am” Connection, i.e. the context of European developments that preceded and paralleled American history and conditioned its progress.

In Part 2 of WSEH, I presented the idea of that European History is a fascinating world of values that can provide us with both emotional and cognitive fuel–provided that material is properly presented.

My focus in this installment is on how the history of Europe helps us to understand and respond to the Europe of today.

To begin, perhaps it is necessary to explain why understanding today’s Europe is even an important goal.

To some, the answer to Europe’s antipathy to America, to its sanction and even direct aid to our enemies through the United Nations and other channels, and to its general subordinacy in contemporary world affairs, is simply to ignore Europe–to go beyond an “America first” perspective in foreign policy to an “America only” perspective in the intellectual arena.

This is a mistake on many fronts–two of which I’ve already explained in parts 1 and 2 of this series, but it is also an error in at least two other related ways: 1) Despite Europe’s political subordinacy since WWII, European ideas continue to dominate the world. 2) Europe is not only the world’s largest supranational economy; it is a prototype for political supranationalism–a key model in international affairs that threatens the very existence of the United States.

Ever since the Age of Discovery (1415-1607), European powers moved out continually into the world and impressed their cultures upon it.  The people of the Americas speak either English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese.  In Africa and Asia, one of these is almost always the second tongue.  And this linguistic domination is merely a reflection of a deeper penetration of the world’s cultures by European thinking.  Whether by direct imperial presence, or by means of trade and cultural exchange with European powers, the world’s people have all in some measure become “Western.”

To be sure, America has also played an increasing role in this Westernization, but the United States has merely picked up where Europe left off, and much of what we are know dealing with is the result of the European imprint. For instance, the leading classes among the people of the Middle East were mostly educated either in Europe, or in schools founded by colonial powers, or in schools patterned after those of colonial powers. Middle Eastern nationalism–a key factor in shaping that region–was imported from Europe, and adapted to its specific context.  The same can be said of Chinese Communism and the various amalgamated forms of republicanism and socialism throughout Asia.

To be sure, Europe’s separate powers no longer occupy a leading role in almost any area, but it is not as separate powers that we must now contend with Europe. The latest ideological development in Europe’s political evolution is supranationalism.

EU FlagTo understand this latest incarnation of the European world is one of the important goals of studying European history.  

By studying the story of Europe we learn that the European Union follows in the wake of nationalism, and internationalism–which themselves emerged from the disintegrated era of the “Balance of Power”–which followed the dissolution of Christendom during the Reformation–itself rooted largely in the oscillating fortunes of the Holy Roman Empire–which emerged from the ruins of the Frankish Empire–which was built over the ashes of Rome.

By tracing this plot-line and others we gain insight into Europe’s culture: Germany’s “Weltschmerz” (“world weariness”), French abhorrence of a happy ending, and wry British wit.  We also uncover the reasons for Europe’s envy of America’s primacy in world affairs, and the reasons why Europeans constantly act to undercut America’s stature.  But more importantly, we find the forces that have shaped current European ideology, which can help us counter it and refashion the “Old World” after the New.


To receive Part 4 of this series, be sure to sign up for the Powell History Mailing List.

To join the upcoming presentation of European History, a part of the acclaimed A First History for AdultsTM curriculum–starting July 18th–click here.

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The main website for HistoryAtOurHouse is now available for prospective clients.

Visit:  http://www.historyatourhouse.com/main/index.html.

The blog, underway for a few weeks now is: http://www.historyatourhouse.com.

When visiting the site, be sure to sign up for the e-mail list, and send a link to your friends.

This program, the first of its kind anywhere, is the only history curriculum in the world that provides a fully-integrated presentation of the past, in a logically-ordered sequence progressing from 2nd to 12th grade.  Students will move from the “Romance of History” to a basic understanding of its outlines, to an abstract, periodized understanding of its totality, culminating in a penetrating perspective of the ideas that have moved history.

In the coming weeks more parts of the site will come on-line, and I will be letting students of Powell History know how they can join in the HistoryAtOurHouse revolution as both participants and providers.

Enjoy, and spread the word!

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