Monday, March 25, 2013

Homeschool Monday - Changing Plans

It's been a long weekend and Monday without the computer. My eldest is writing a paper for her college English class that's due at midnight, so the rest of us have been banished from the computer area. Because the bigger kids couldn't get to their math and Spanish lessons, which are computer based, we tweaked our syllabus and spent the day studying together instead.

The elementary age kids are studying the French Revolution this week. I'd been dreading the bloody gore of the guillotine with my sensitive children. I had originally planned to rush through it and get on with the next chapter - Catherine the Great of Russia. 

The change of plans meant that the 13 year old got to join our discussion. Instead of brushing past the beheadings, we stopped there a while. We talked about the deaths of the Ursuline nuns and their hot chocolate as they awaited their turns with Madame Guillotine. We read the heartbreaking scene of Marie Antoinette's last Confession in Trianon by Elena Maria Vidal. We ended the day with a discussion of the martyrdom of Louis XVI who was killed for refusing to betray the Catholic Church by signing a declaration renouncing the allegiance of the Church in France to the Vatican. My children learned more today from our impromptu lessons than they do from many of the ones I spend hours designing. 

The lesson I learned was to not fear the blood and gore, to not gloss over the ugly bits of history. The discussions about the French Revolution carried on until just before dinner time this evening. There was a spirited discussion about why the American Revolution was good but the French one was bad. We talked about how the rise of secularism brought about a rabid anti-Catholicism that led to the deaths of countless nuns, priests, monks, laypeople....and a king.

There was a time in my homeschooling career that such an abrupt change would have thrown me for a loop. After all these years, I've learned the value of rolling with the punches and know where the books about the lesson topics are on the shelf.


Éamonn said...

King Louis XVI's chaplain, Abbé Henry Essex Edgeworth de Firmont is an interesting fellow if you ever get a chance to look at him. He ministered to the King in prison and on the scaffold, escaped from Paris and, refusing a British government pension, went into exile with Louis XVIII. He ended up dying of an illness contracted from Napoleon's troops to whom he was administering the sacraments in what is now Latvia!

a said...

Congrats to you for being able to "flow" with the disruption in lesson plans and for not glossing over the blood and gore.

The French Revolution and the subsequent revolutions are important history. I think our Country needs to study this period a little more because we are, 200 years later, going through those same conflicts. (I think I wished that with "Les Mis" coming out in movie format that people might have "gotten it," but oh well)