by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America
As my wife and I settled into the concept of home schooling we found that we needed some sort of structured curriculum that we could be comfortable with. Even in the late 1980s there were quite a few home school curriculums out there, though probably not as many as today. One of our daughter’s friends, one time, commented to us “You guys home schooled before home schooling was cool.” I hadn’t thought of it that way but I guess she was right. In 1986 it hadn’t been all that long since people in some states had had their kids removed out of their homes because they refused to put them in public schools. After all, for many officious bureaucrats Government schools were the sacred cows of the hour.
So my wife and I started attending home school book fairs and conventions when we could get to them. We started checking out books and listening to various speakers.
One thing I found with various home school curriculums was that the selection of history books was, for me, somewhat discouraging in the main, and the same held true for books I saw on government. Some of the books I saw at fairs looked pretty much like government school material with a few Bible verses sprinkled over it–just enough to make them palatable to home school families that didn’t know an awful lot of history (and weren’t likely to learn much with some of these books).
We finally came up with a curriculum for our kids, but I didn’t use their history material. For our son I came up with a five volume series by Clarence B. Carson called A Basic History of the United States. It was published by the American Textbook Committee of Wadley, Alabama, originally copyrighted in 1983. It was a good, solid basic U.S. history that didn’t dwell on a pile of politically correct drivel and I found that, when it came to the volume on the War of Northern Aggression, they got it right. Our son worked in that series until he completed high school. I also had him read current events articles out of the New American magazine and write out short reports on these.
For our daughter we came up with a book by Donzella Cross Boyle called Quest of a Hemisphere for American history. I liked this book because it went into the differences between republics and democracies–something most history books almost totally ignore. Our daughter was three years younger than our son and that seemed a better choice for her at that point.
In early 1989 we moved from Indiana to Illinois and my wife and I went to work for a Christian home school program there. The folks in our church in Indiana gave us a going-away party, at which they presented me with an electric typewriter. As I stated earlier, they were not bad folks, but I think some of what I did made them nervous and some of them were probably relieved to see us go. I seem to have had that effect on a couple churches over the years.
For awhile our daughter worked in the curriculum used by the home schooling program we worked in. One of the books they used for American history was an A-Beka book. This was a high school book and the title escapes me at this point. The home school program in Illinois used this as a two-year course in American history. So our daughter started reading in it and working through it and she finished the entire book in less than six months. Her comment to me at that point was “Dad, can we go on to something else for American history? This book was shallow.”
So we did. A friend I worked with lent me a home school American history course that consisted of 16 cassette tapes, a whole book of notes and a great big bibliography to go with it. It had originally been done as a series of lectures by Pastor Steve Wilkins when he was still in Forest, Mississippi. It was called America–the first 350 years. Contrary to much of what I had seen for American history over the years, this was history with some meat on the bones! This series had all the stuff most history books, even for the home school audience, either ignored or played down. The man who put this series together was not just a pastor, he was also a historian, and a historian from a Reformed Christian perspective. This was history our daughter could sink her teeth into–and she did–nothing shallow here!
We did the series together, tape by tape, late at night when it was quiet and if we came to something on one of the tapes she wasn’t sure about, we shut the tape off and talked about it. She sat with a notebook on her lap and took notes through the whole thing. She finished her home schooling with this tape series and both of us learned much we had not known previously. This was like “all the history the historians leave out.” The series started with Columbus, though Pastor Wilkins commented on possible European involvement here before Columbus–and it went through the end of “reconstruction” after the War of Northern Aggression. It stopped after that. Later, someone asked Pastor Wilkins why he had stopped after that, and I never forgot his reply. He said “Because everything after reconstruction was Post-America.” In other words, everything after “reconstruction” was not the America the founders had given us–it was a whole different animal. He was right. None of us alive today has ever lived in the “real” America passed down from the Founders. We have lived in a clever counterfeit and most don’t even realize it. The War of Northern Aggression was our French Revolution, and like France, we have never recovered.
Rev. Wilkins’ history series was pivotal in our daughter’s understanding of accurate American history and it made enough of a difference in her outlook that our grandchildren, who were home schooled, used this series also. The cassette tapes are long gone, but I think you can still find the series in MP3 today.
Had our children attended government schools, especially in the North, they would never have had the opportunity to learn accurate history. All they would have learned of history in the government schools would have been the “cunningly devised fables”, taught to government school students, and that bemuse most evangelical Christians in our day–in other words, it ain’t real history!
After working with the home school program in Illinois for several years, my wife and I moved to North Louisiana, where the church we attend has a classical Christian school and where the youngsters are taught correct history, not politically correct history.
Some may think I belabor the history question too much, but history is the area my calling has been in, and I have learned over the years, that if you don’t get your country’s history (and the world’s) history correct, then you will most often come down on the wrong side of every political and historical discussion you ever get into because you will not have done the homework. Ask your average evangelical Christian, even in the South, what the War of Northern Aggression was fought over and 90% of them will say “slavery.” And that is the culturally Marxist reply. It’s not that these folks are intentionally Marxist, it’s just that they don’t know. The government schools most of them attended only ever gave them the culturally Marxist answer to the question of what the War was all about.
Among evangelicals in our day (and before) this has been a major problem–in the main, we don’t know our history–and we will seldom get it in government schools. This is not said to belittle the efforts of those in government schools that try to teach accurately, but it is a sad commentary on the system they work for, that does not want them to teach accurately, no matter what the educational apparatchiks try to tell you. Until our evangelical brethren begin to understand this and remove their kids from the government school leviathan, not much will change. I have said this in the past, but will repeat it here in closing–if our view of the past is faulty, then our vision for the future will be also.