Overview: Beautiful Feet’s modern history curriculum is a great choice for high school. Read my detailed review to learn the benefits of this literature-based study.
(Note: I received compensation for this review but all opinions are my own. This post does contain affiliate links.)
Modern history is a subject that is woefully lacking in resources in the homeschool world. I know because I tried to find one when daughter #2 wanted to learn about World War 2. There wasn’t anything out there, and I sure didn’t want to create a curriculum myself. That just isn’t my cup of tea. (Any other
lazy busy ladies out there? LOL.)
That was lotsa years ago, though, and thankfully now there is a new option on the scene. It’s a literature-based high school course from Beautiful Feet called Modern U.S. and World History (referral link).
I have always loved the IDEA of literature-based history courses but have not used them much. Expense has always been an issue (can you say “lotsa books”?), and they always seemed too unstructured for me to utilize them comfortably and easily.
At one time we did use Beautiful Feet’s History of Science course (referral link), reading stories about inventions and biographies of famous scientists and adding their cut-out heads to our timeline. In the elementary years, this was great.
But I haven’t looked seriously at literature-based history since starting high school.
I like things laid out very specifically, y’all. I don’t want a lot of teacher prep. And my ideal for high school is a curriculum that my kid can work through all by their little self, with me as merely a consultant. Literature-based courses are notorious—at least I thought so—for being kinda loosey-goosey and relying on the reading itself, without providing much in the way of objective evaluation opportunities. And I’m just not a fan of curriculum that involves projects like cooking national food or creating country flags or crafting dioramas or dressing up. Call me a party pooper, LOL.
So when the opportunity arose to review Beautiful Feet’s modern history curriculum, I was intrigued to see what they had to offer. And I’ve been pleasantly suprised, y’all.
We received a partial selection of the materials for this course, enough to do slightly less than the second semester’s worth, including World War 2 through the early 21st century. The full course covers from 1850 on and is a year long. It claims to be good for a history credit AND a literature credit—and based on the depth and type of questions/assignments and the amount of writing involved, I think this is a fair assessment.
The course is specified to be best for use in grades 11-12, and due to the seriousness of the subject matter, I would agree. Also, the assignments are geared towards a higher level of thinking.
As explained in the study guide, “These questions focus on developing students’ abilities to think critically about the literature. This guide directs students not simply with comprehension questions, but rather, with Socratic questioning, which fosters the exploration of complex ideas and concepts that pertain to the larger themes covered in this study. This method will help to expose students to alternative perspectives, challenge students’ assumptions, and sharpen students’ abilities to use evidence to defend their viewpoints.”
A literature-based modern history curriculum planned for you
The structure for the course is provided by the study guide, and this is where the beautiful-ness (ha! see what I did there?) comes in, in my opinion. This study guide is well laid-out and thorough, and—always a plus in my book—the student will be able to follow it without guidance. You won’t have to tell them how much to read each day or what to do; each literature book is already divided into lessons that tell what pages/chapters to read, provide vocabulary study and comprehension questions, discuss literary concepts, list related resources/links, and assign writing topics for short essays or longer reports.
Scheduling is defined loosely as 7 lessons per every two weeks, but this is obviously adaptable. It is not necessary to do every assignment or answer every question, and this is where you might want to use some oversight to scale the workload to your teen’s time and comfort level.
A full answer key is provided in the back, although not all questions or assignments will have definitive answers, so mom must use some wisdom and discernment while checking work. This would be the only shortcoming to the curriculum for me—that there is no instruction for how to grade the course. I’d love some guidance about how heavily to count the different types of assignments, as well as how to evaluate the writing in terms of style vs. content, etc. I’m a fan of objectivity and rubrics when it comes to grading, in order to ensure that my own emotion (or ignorance) is not skewing a grade one way or the other.
But the content and depth and planned-out structure of the course outweigh this concern for me. After all, it would just be a matter of sitting down to decide ahead of time how to structure the grading. I’ve done that before, and I will do it again, because I think this modern history curriculum is worth it. And for the interest-led family or the unit-study family, where grading is a more fluid concept, the course would be absolutely perfect just as it is.
Beautiful Feet has been around for 30 years, so they must be doing something right. Frankly, I think they’re doing A LOT right.
What makes Beautiful Feet’s modern history curriculum worthwhile?
1) Anything literature-based is bound to be more interesting than a textbook or workbook.
I love to read, and so do all of my kids. In this course there is a nice blend of factual books and historical fiction and memoirs of actual events. All of them look like they would hold the interest of a teen, even one who DOESN’T love to read. We’re talking LIVING books, y’all. These are what makes history come alive for students of any age.
2) This course has lotsa opportunities for writing.
I think writing is one of the most important things to concentrate on during the high school years. I say just get them to write, and write, and write. It doesn’t have to be monumental stuff but rather a paragraph here and an essay there—and the more they do it, they more comfortable they become.
OR you can use some of the writing assignments as springboard for discussion, instead. Either way, the teen is communicating in words about what they’ve learned. This is huge.
3) I love all the questions that promote analytical thinking.
This is not just a “what did you read” curriculum. There are opportunities to compare and contrast, to develop a position and defend it, to express opinion (teens love to do that, LOL), etc. This is a great way to get them engaged rather than just regurgitating.
4) This time period, as I’ve mentioned before, is often left out or is not covered sufficiently.
I love that this course provides an opportunity to explore the more modern episodes in history, which are rapidly becoming the distant past. We can learn much from studying these. Our teens, especially, NEED to study these. This world is becoming a much more complicated place, and it is modern events and themes that are driving society’s current trends. I can imagine really impactful discussions arising from the readings and the events of this time period.
5) The curriculum is super flexible.
Do what you think is important; leave out what you think is not. Spend time exploring the gazillions of extra resources that are suggested. Or don’t. It’s up to you and your teen to determine how in-depth you want to pursue any particular area of study, so you can concentrate on their interests and maybe tread more lightly over the epochs/events that they find less exciting.
This is über helpful when trying to keep the teen mind motivated to work; am I right?
6) It’s affordable.
You know price is important to me, and I’m happy to say that I think the cost of this modern history curriculum is very reasonable. Remember, this is a 2-credit course we’re talking about — History AND Language Arts. It includes the jam-packed study guide and TWENTY-FOUR books. I don’t know where else you are gonna find that kinda deal.
Also, one thing that makes Beautiful Feet unique (at least as far as I’ve seen) is that you can arrange to buy only the books you need. If you already own some of the titles, you can contact them for a customized price. Isn’t that the coolest thing?
Go to the website now to browse all of their options! You just might find something that’s a perfect fit!
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