Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An Ida Tarbell Curriculum

[Source] Ida M. Tarbell
The Autobiography of S. S. McClure, which Tim read aloud to N. in September, led to the book that has been at the center of N.'s studies for the past couple weeks: All in the Day's Work: An Autobiography by Ida Tarbell (1939).  Tarbell was an editor for McClure's Magazine, a biographer, and an influential muckracking journalist.  Every day Tim (and sometimes N.) reads a portion of the book aloud, and then they follow up on subjects and ideas that arise in the day's reading. 

For example, today they read in Tarbell's book about her knowledge of the United States' economic transition from farming to industry and about William McKinley, who attended the Poland Union Seminary in Ohio, where she was later a teacher, as well as her alma mater, Allegheny College.  Then they read in both the Britannica and World Book Encyclopedias about McKinley's presidency.  They also read about McKinley's era in A History of US, the excellent history set I bought for our homeschool this fall.  Then they used the globe to find the territories the U.S. won or annexed in the Spanish-American War.  Later N. told me very clearly about the role played by the U.S.S. Maine in the beginnings of this war.  Tim and N. together wrote out the order of the military ranks from general to private.  N. did some of the reading in the encyclopedias and history books aloud and explored the globe further. 

Last week, they read in Tarbell's autobiography about her years as a student at Allegheny College.  Then they looked up the Allegheny Mountains, looked at images of Bentley Hall at Allegheny College, and looked up Louis Agassiz and the Agassiz Glacier. 

Another day Tim and N. read in Tarbell's book about women's suffrage and followed that up with further reading in the encyclopedia and A Story of US about the suffrage movement and about Victoria C. Woodhull, the first woman to run for president of the U.S.  N. wrote up a math problem to figure out the year in which Tarbell reached age 70.

Tarbell writes compellingly about so many interesting aspects of American culture from the 1870s up to WWI, which happens to be an era that fascinates N.  Her autobiography is giving Tim and N. very rich days of learning together.

4 comments:

Mom and Kiddo said...

I'm intrigued by the US history books you mention. One of the reasons I've disliked US history (even though I have a minor in History -- I didn't want to major in it because that would mean I'd have to take US History classes!) is that it was presented in school as a tale about divinely inspired men creating a perfect world -- which was completely contrary to my experience! I'm guessing these books avoid this type of description?

Fanny Harville said...

I haven't read all the volumes in this series, by any means, but the story begins with the prehistory of the continent, thus setting "America" in a much broader context than most histories do. I think that it does a good job of presenting the complexity of our nation's history for children.

Kathleen Brady said...

I am thrilled that you are studying the great Ida Tarbell and I hope you will look at my biography of her "Ida Tarbell Portrait of a Muckraker."

Emily said...

Both the Tarbell and McClure books sound so interesting - I have to add them to my list. I love the "organic" way you let N's learning develop. (-: