Ambleside for Adults - Year 7

As you might know, I started working through Ambleside Online's Year 7 for myself at the beginning of the year, right when Lucy started year 2 which covers a similar period of history. I've seen a few questions pop up about this on the AO forum and facebook page so I thought I'd relate my experience.

What I did:

I didn't do the full year. I'm good with my middle school science already, some books I had read in  the last few years and I was only partially sure that I would be able to stick with this committment so I mostly stuck with the History and Literature selections that were public domain or available from my library. I wish I had done the geography because those look really interesting but my library didn't have them. I also didn't do Beowulf because I had my Epic Poetry quota filled with Fierce Loves with the AO forum. Even so, it was quite a committment for someone who didn't used to plan her yearly reading at all. But I did it. I finished*!

*One exception. I didn't finish Henty's In Freedom's Cause in Term 2. I just found that book so boring. I don't think a 7th grade boy would find it boring but I don't share the same motivation as a middle school boy and I think it would be a good choice for that age range. I'm such a rule keeper thought that I might just go back and read them to say that I really really did do it. Those un-highlighted squares make me so sad.

Those are the modified Ambleside Online charts I used, simple cut out and stuck in my bullet journal. I treated each week as a unit and just worked my way through. Easy Peasy. Well, the scheduling part was easy. The readings weren't so easy. And I have to be honest, none of these books were ones I'd just pick up and read on my own. That's kinda the point. I am and have always been a prolific reader and I don't just read twaddle or light books either. I do tend to stick with what I like and know because I know it and I like it. (How's that for a profound statement!). The few books from year 7 that seemed really interesting were the ones I choose to read last year when the AO forum read them. So putting myself on this reading plan forced me to read beyond myself. A bit of accountability and a outside source to give me the motivation to choose Churchill when I was tired after a long day and finally put the kids to bed and really just wanted to go back to a Austen or Bronte or a classic murder mystery story was just what I wanted and needed. And it worked!

What I Learned

I just love this curriculum and how much I learned. I feel like I've got a really good handle on this time period now and I'm excited to see how my understanding of America's history starts to change with that better introduction. Churchill's Birth of Britain was a growth book for me. The first term I was struggling to get through and it was slow going. But by the end, it was my favorite.

I started this simple kings chart when Lucy was in Year 1 just to help me remind her but it took on a life of it's own once I started BoB. It's quite unassuming but I'm not sure I would have made it through the book without it.

Mark Twain's Joan of Arc was another one that grew on me. If you've seen my review, you'll know that I can't say Ivanhoe was ever a favorite and Age of Chivalry was still a struggle at the end BUT I am glad I read both, especially in the context of the this whole year of reading. The nice thing about the weeks/unit format and slow reading approach is that even if I really didn't like a book, most of the time I could just push through a chapter or two knowing I'd have several more days until I'd cycle back around that one again. That's actually how I decided to stop with the Henty book. I would stall when I hit that reading each time because I didn't want to read it and it was really slowing the whole thing down. Taking it out solved that problem. Ah, the perks of being an adult who technically already has completed 7th grade!

My biggest takeaway from this experiment. I'm always making connections between books I read and things I'm experiencing, that's what is so great about living books filled with ideas. But embarking on a actual course of study that's already put together just enhances that experiences.  I am seeing some great themes, especially those contrasting medieval times and modernity. And ideas of government versus individual and responsibilities. So many ideas! The curriculum is obviously well designed but it doesn't stop with just these books (and Lucy's year 2 ones that in the same time period). It's amazing all the connections I'm seeing with all the other things I happen to pick up. ,Modern non-fiction books, a Bonhoeffer biography and an article in the latest Circe magazine seem to mesh perfectly.

Next time?

Yes, there will be a next time. I am taking the rest of the year to finish up some other books and hopefully get to a few more of the free reads (The only free read I got to was The Fellowship of the Ring, which is an accomplishment but there are several more I'd like to read). I hope to start Year 8 in this January. Now that I'm pretty sure I will actually do it and that my kids will eventually need those books as well, I don't feel bad purchasing the ones we don't own.

Look, it's a BOC entry! I have this Book of Centuries in Bonded Leather. It is so beautiful. Which is great. And awful as I was afraid to mess it up. For the longest time it only had my kid's birthday in it ( I was fairly certain that nothing would trump those events in that year). I've made a lot of progress this year, in overcoming fears if not in number of entries!

 I won't be holding myself to getting through that one in just a year as I'm thinking over plans on how to do a bit more keeping with the year 8 reads. Exactly how I will be doing that is unknown but I think it will be an attempt to really replicate what I would have a y8 student actually doing, with maybe some note keeping for my future self the y8 teacher's sake. I hesitate to call this Pre-Reading because I was doing it for my own sake but if I'm taking the time to read all the books now, I'd like to be able to use that knowledge down the road somehow and listening to the Schole Sisters podcast on pre-reading has my wheels turning with ideas. My kings and highlights timeline (Doesn't that sound so officially when it was really just a piece of paper I used to keep my brain from exploding!) worked this year and I did add some events to my Book of Centuries and quotes to my commonplace book but I want to challenge myself to be more consistent. I don't think I'm brave enough to try any exams but you never know!

1 comment :

  1. Loved reading this! I'm working through Year 7 for myself right now. Like you, I'm not doing all the books. I'm trying to do some notes/narration, some drawings, etc. My youngest is in Year 4 so while I'm doing Year 7 for myself right now, it's also an opportunity to do teacher preparation ahead of time. :) Thanks for sharing your Year 7 studies!