Saturday, April 17, 2010

American History Textbooks: Good for Schools, Good for Home Schooling

Project Special Education

"For teachers who are not scientists, historians, or experts in sex education: but are teaching these subjects to special students anyway, Project Special Education (PSE) offers a solution.

"Project Special Education's DATELINE: America, PROJECT EXPLORE and IMAGES are a fresh and effective way to teach your special students about American history, science, and human sexuality.

"Content-rich texts, reinforcement-oriented exercises, and exciting reading keep students interested, and help them learn...."

I'm Biased: I Think This Stuff's Good

I worked at Project Special Education's sister company, Vocational Biographies, for about 20 years, so my opinion that parts of this website, like the 'multilogo' over there, are pretty cool.

Of course, I would think so: I assembled the thing from pre-existing artwork.

And I think that Project Special Education's Dateline: America product is pretty good. Again, I would: I had a small part in producing the original.

That was then, this is now.

I haven't worked at Vocational Biographies since the spring of 2006, but I get called back now and again when one of the companies have something for me to do on their websites. I was back this week, with a little updating on their page about Dateline: America.

Somebody Publishes History Textbooks: So What?

The whole Project Special Education line of products is, I think, valuable for people teaching secondary-level students who are fairly smart, but didn't keep up with reading skills. There's a sort of explanation on the P.S.E. "What is Project Special Education?" page.

I'm particularly interested in the American history series, because my first major was in history - and in my opinion the subject often isn't handled all that well. Sure: it's possible to kill interest in history by reducing it to a dusty series of unrelated names and dates. (Imagine how popular soccer might be, if kids were forced to memorize the names of every team to make the world cup, before they were allowed to see a grainy photo of a soccer ball.)

Dateline: America isn't like that. It probably isn't the ultimate resource for teaching history to high schoolers. But until you find that academic El Dorado, I think it'll do. And checking it out won't take more than a minute or two:Am I 'pushing' Dateline: America? Yeah, actually, I am.

Most of Project Special Education's customers when I worked for the companies were traditional schools. Dateline, America is a pretty good resource for parents who home school their kids, too. It's designed for teachers, by people who were teachers themselves - or at least understood what's involved - so most of the preparation is already done.

And yes: it works for home schooling. That's not a guess: all four of our kids have been (or are being) home-schooled from seventh grade through high school graduation. And we're using Dateline: America for the American history units. It works.

Don't let the "special education" part of the name fool you: it's not 'dumbed down' geared for stupid kids.

What sets the Project Special Education products apart from most high school texts is that they're designed for easy reading.

Let's put it this way: although utilizing polysyllabic vocabulary and assemblages of sentences whose structures are not only of unnecessary, but of superfluously elaborate, complexity may impress and bedazzle - Writing simple statements is better.

Better, that is, if the idea is to inform.

Dang! I was going to work "pleonastic redundancy" into that jaw-breaker of a sentence. Oh, well: You get the idea, I think.

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