When I was in Elementary school I hated Social Studies. It was unbelievably dry, boring, and full of facts I simply did not want to commit to memory. As I moved on to high school things didn’t get any better. Boring wars taught by boring teachers after lunch. Spare me! In fact, it wasn’t until college that I began to love history. I met a professor that made history come alive. I remember thinking to myself back then that if I ever had kids, I pray they get a teacher like Dr. Hancock who can make history jump off the pages!
As I was researching curriculum for the 2017-2018 homeschool year, I thought about why my college professor succeeded in making his students hungry for history. What did he have that others seem to be missing? because they all seemed to have the passion, but it didn’t translate well in their teachings. Then it hit me – he didn’t use textbooks; He used living books! And not only did he use living books, but he used diverse living books. I could see people that look like me in quite a few of them, something that was rarely possible for me in my high school history books.
So obviously I began searching for books just like that to share with Johanna. I wanted a curriculum filled with living books, but that I didn’t have to put together. I’m a big fan of not reinventing the wheel. What I know for certain is that history textbooks seem to be very White washed. If you believe what you read in them, then African Americans were first barbarians, then slaves, then hey MLK Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and Barack Obama! That’s all we amount to in many books, and Native Americans were just happy to break bread with pilgrim folk.
If you’re a person of color, or just a parent wanting to make sure that history is presented to your child as authentically as possible, that’s pretty frustrating. So you know I was beyond excited when I came across a history curriculum written by an African American mother that was inclusive of people that look like me.
A Blessed Heritage is a curriculum put together by Belinda Bullard. Right on the front page of her website she explains that they offer “a more diverse portrayal of American history for a more diverse generation of students.”
Once I read that and perused the website, I knew exactly which history curriculum we would be using for the upcoming school year, and I just had to speak with Mrs. Bullard. I was blessed to be able to interview her via email to give you all some insight into how this curriculum came about:
H+C Mama: How long have you been a homeschooler? What made you decide to homeschool?
BB: We are entering year 15 or 16 (it’s been long enough that I have forgotten how long it has been!) of our homeschooling journey. I wish I could say that I responded to the voice of the Lord via some burning bush or a calling that kept me up at night, but in truth, our story is far less awe-inspiring and much more practical! We were both the epitome of urban professionals, chasing the American dream and realizing the consequences thereof to our family dynamic as well as our time and energy. When our oldest was a baby, we met a couple that were homeschoolers, but otherwise, we had little exposure to what seemed like a great concept–just not for us. When we found out we were expecting our third child, we started thinking seriously about making changes that would allow us to spend less time traveling for our careers and more time being a family. Memories of that homeschooling family we met earlier became more and more a part of our discussion about what should change, and a month after our third child was born, we “officially” became a homeschooling family.
H+C Mama: Why did you create A Blessed Heritage? Did anyone inspire you to do so?
BB: A Blessed Heritage was the result of my own passions regarding how I wanted to educate our children. Specifically, my hope was to accomplish the following:
1) to help them understand who they are in the larger picture of life
2) to instill pride in them regarding their past, present, and future as African-Americans
3) to point them continuously back to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior
Having said that, if there was a primary inspiration, it would be our three children. As I began to put resources together, however, different people would come to me (as confirmation, I believe) that there was a larger need for these types of products. Most of us have to do the same leg work to create what I often refer to as inclusive history, and so I saw our history series as a one-stop shop. Additionally, I was a training manager for several years before I walked away from corporate America, and I continue to teach students locally and long-distance. All of that curriculum design training and experience served me well in putting together the curriculum that is now in place. Finally, I saw the opportunity to share multi-cultural history in light of what is God’s plan. I did not want to leave whole eras and people out based on comfort level, as traditional curriculum do; I did not want to present our history in a vacuum, or present it from a place of anger or hatred. I wanted to integrate the story we all know, featuring our presence and the presence of other races and ethnicities who go unmentioned in traditional history curriculum, and tell that same story from a Christian worldview.
H+C Mama: How should blessed heritage be used? As a spine, a supplement?
BB: Each volume of our products (we now have a 2-volume set for elementary, middle school, and high schoolers) is created to be a stand-alone, 1-year history curriculum. At the elementary level, we do not use a spine, but instead tell the story via living books. The purpose at that level is to introduce American history and acquaint young students with people and faces that will become increasingly important as they uncover deeper truths. We do use a spine at the middle school level, where we delve deeper into American history and begin to think more critically about what happened and why. The reading list is more comprehensive and challenging, and the activities are geared more toward independent research and understanding. Finally, we refer to the same spine used in the middle school level, but the expectation is that children generally know the outline of American history when they reach high school. That curriculum is presented more so in survey format, highlighting key eras and events, and engaging students in more critical thinking and writing about this country, how we arrived in our current situation, and what role each of us plays in changing our future.
Again, all Blessed Heritage products can be used as stand-alone products, but I have a number of customers who love the curriculum they have and simply want to add our curriculum as a supplement. This is also easily done, as we have a reading list and activities that can be incorporated into another history study without too much manipulation.
H+C Mama: Can we expect more African-American focused curriculum from you?
BB: Absolutely! There are other history products in addition to our core curriculum, including our line of podcasts. The podcasts are what I call “history shorts,” geared to edu-tain those students and families who love auditory tools and might not prefer an extended session over books and notebooks. They “hook you in” with life lessons from some people you might not have heard of, like Bill Pickett, or A. Philip Randolph, or Madame C.J. Walker.
Beginning in 2017, we will also introduce a number of other supplemental products that will continue to broaden our knowledge of people of African descent. Plus, I will revise our elementary curriculum to include more skill sets and activities for little hands. I only wish my fingers kept up with my mind in getting all of the ideas out and published, but with the Lord’s help, I will get there! Keep watching for new products on our blog, and on our website. Also, our newsletter subscribers get the earliest sneak previews and our subscriber discounts!
I hope that interview left you as excited as I am because thanks to A Blessed Heritage, one of you will win volume 1 of Our History, HIS-Story ! Enter thru rafflecopter below and the winner will be announced on Friday, July 28 at noon! Good luck!