Why should Christian high school students study mythology?

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Bret Welshymer

Why should Christian high school students study mythology?

Unread post by Bret Welshymer » Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:58 pm

“Why should Christian high school students study mythology?” This is a good question, and we would like to suggest the following:

As parents and teachers of high school students, we want our children to be able to study literature and history from different cultures and see it in the context of a Biblical worldview. In Ancient History and Literature, students read through the entire Old Testament while reading other literature from the corresponding time period. As the students learn to write an argumentative essay, they compare and contrast what they are learning from the Bible with what they are reading. For instance, one writing assignment is to look at the character of the True God compared to the mythological Greek gods. Students discover that the Greek gods are imperfect, like any other god that man creates in his own image. Oftentimes, the gods reflect the worst of human nature and are very childish, bickering and competing with each other. This type of critical thinking and writing helps our children establish and solidify a Biblical worldview as taught from Scripture. This knowledge, background, and experience then helps them to evaluate our current culture and more effectively live life from a Biblical worldview today.

Another reason for reading Greek and Roman mythology is that much of English literature and a fair amount of American literature make allusions to ancient mythology. The writers and poets of Great Britain and the United States have borrowed heavily from the tales of old. Without some knowledge about the gods and the different myths, your comprehension and appreciation of many literary masterpieces will suffer tremendously. Literary greats like William Shakespeare, John Milton, Lord Tennyson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne resort to mythology very frequently.

Also, our English language has many idioms that come from mythology. Have you heard about someone who was caught “between a rock and a hard place”? You will learn where this expression comes from after reading about Jason and the Argonauts. Have you hear the expression, “That was his Achilles’ heel”? After reading about the Trojan War, you will know what is meant by such an expression.

(Compiled from My Father’s World’s Ancient History and Literature Daily Lesson Plans and Literature and Composition Supplement for Ancient History and Literature.)

dhudson
Posts: 320
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Re: Why should Christian high school students study mythology?

Unread post by dhudson » Wed Jan 13, 2010 5:50 pm

Thanks, Bret! I think this is a great answer. Even reading Homer in CtG has allowed my children to understand some literary references that they would not have otherwise. I know that this can be a sore subject but I appreciate that we can explain the truth to our children while still explaining what certain cultures believed with in the context of the Bible.

We so appreciate MFW and your thoughtful consideration on these matters.
God Bless,
Dawn
http://www.shiningexamples.blogspot.com
blessed Mom of three - 16, 13 & 13
happy user of MFW since 2002

praisefor3
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AHL and Greek and Roman Mythology

Unread post by praisefor3 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:18 am

Thankyousomuch! wrote:We are new to MFW this year and are 9 weeks into AHL. My problem is that my son finds the Greek and Roman Mythology book "disturbing." We've never delved deeply into mythology, but have read some basic things over the years. I carefully read the reasons in favor of studying mythology, but am wondering about it since his reaction seems pretty strong. We're praying about the direction to go, but wondered if anyone else opted to not study mythology at all, opted to find an alternate book with less detailed descriptions, or went some other direction that what is planned for AHL. I'd sure appreciate any feedback.
Thanks in advance!
I've had some of your same questions. It seemed strange telling him to study about these made up stories based on false gods.

In the end, I chose (so far) to leave it in and the reason is because SO MANY things connect to these myths (days of the week, the popular teen action "Avenger" movies, even idioms we regularly use in conversation i.e. My Achilles heel...) So I decided I would rather him understand what people are referring to and be able to reiterate the absurdity and falsehood of such strange beliefs. He will be exposed to them whether we study them here or not so I am choosing to expose him while I can wrap it in the truth and point him to the right direction. You have to do what you believe is best for you so please know that I certainly respect that and I'm sure the MFW authors would also.

Julie in MN
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Location: Minnesota

Re: AHL and Greek and Roman Mythology

Unread post by Julie in MN » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:54 am

Thankyousomuch! wrote: wondered if anyone else opted to not study mythology at all, opted to find an alternate book with less detailed descriptions, or went some other direction that what is planned for AHL.
I agree with the others that only you can know what's right for your son, and that you have lots of options. But it's nice to be able to chat about it, too. I am one who did some subbing, and you can feel free to email me if you want more info on that. My son did a lot of Bulfinch, but I also subbed some of it with my own things, since I had taught a high schooler before MFW had high school, too. However, my reasons for subbing were not the same as yours, so my subs might not help you. The mythology didn't disturb my son. He simply was annoyed, "I get it already, I'm never going to believe in something so silly, why do I have to waste my time reading it?" I spent most of my subbing time on that.

I think when things like that happen at our house, I find it helpful to list my reasons *for* doing the reading, and then see if I can achieve those same goals in any other way. So my reasons are very similar to Crystal and PraiseFor3, maybe these:

1. Ability to compare mythology to the Old Testament and speak knowledgeably about the differences. I have known many teens and young adults who claim that our OT is just as violent, has just as strange events such as turning into a pillar of salt, etc. I think reading Bulfinch's alongside the OT is a solid way for our teens to be able to say, "No, I've read them both, and they are far different."

2. Recognizing how much reference to mythology is in our society, from the names of planets to the names of shoes, and recognizing why those names were chosen for those products and landmarks, and what kinds of subtle meanings are behind those names.

3. Taking a step up in reading and reading comprehension in 9th grade, moving toward college-level reading with just a few books this year (Bulfinch and Homer).

4. Of course another reason for using Bulfinch is that it's easier to assign something that's been tested on many high schoolers and credits are all parsed out.


So when I subbed, I tried to make sure I was accomplishing the same goals, just in different ways, and I made sure I had time to make up for #4.

Best wishes as you figure this out,
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

cbollin

Re: AHL and Greek and Roman Mythology

Unread post by cbollin » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:11 am

I like how Julie put this.. "So when I subbed, I tried to make sure I was accomplishing the same goals, just in different ways, "

"I agree with the others that only you can know what's right for your son, and that you have lots of options. But it's nice to be able to chat about it, too"

the audio thread here...
http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php ... 483#p65599

you might also glance through the high school archive about AHL ideas. No,you wouldn't be the first to tweak AHL or to have concerns on this topic.
http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewforum.php?f=21

((hugs)) and prayers as you listen for the Lord's leading on how it will shape out in your family. It might be very different from other people. HE knows you best.

-crystal

Thankyousomuch!
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Re: AHL and Greek and Roman Mythology

Unread post by Thankyousomuch! » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:23 pm

I am so so grateful for the responses to my questions! I apologize for the late thank you, but (for some reason) I thought I'd get an email saying there was a response(s) to my post. I wasted a considerable amount of time figuring no one else had my same problem - finally, a prompting to get on the message board and see if my posts were answered that way. Yes, I'm new to message boards, also. :) So, thank you, thank you, thank you. I may contact you directly to chat more!

Julie in MN
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Location: Minnesota

AHL Mythology Question

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:16 am

GLPerky wrote:Is there much Mythology in AHL? Could it easily be skipped? Thanks for the input.
Good morning,

I want to be sure you've read all the info on the website. For instance, this is the description of "English" in AHL:
  • Develop composition skills with comprehensive lessons for writing essays.
    Enjoy and analyze (from a Christian perspective) literature written during or about the ancient period: the Bible, The Epic of Gilgamesh(condensed version), The Cat of Bubastes, Bulfinch's Greek and Roman Mythology, The Iliad, and The Odyssey. Vocabulary, grammar and comprehension and critical thinking questions included.
Another piece of info on the AHL FAQ link:
  • For most students, Ancient History and Literature, will not be required for state graduation requirements. Nonetheless, My Father's World believes it is critical to the Biblical scope and sequence needed for high school students. Ancient History and Literature provides students with a solid foundation in Bible that includes reading the entire Old Testament verse by verse. Integrating the Old Testament readings with the study of ancient cultures and literature meets a greater goal of educating students with a solid Christian belief system while achieving an academically strong education. Ancient History and Literature will help students learn a strong Biblical worldview by developing analytical skills and spiritual maturity.
I just thought those might help you start seeing AHL as not really a "study of mythology" but more a year of apologetics, when the Bible is the foundation, read line by line, and then literature of those times is compared. Thus, skipping the literature of the other cultures would change the learning goals quite a bit.

Here are the literature pieces with mythology in them:

1. The Epic of Gilgamesh. This is a retelling that leaves out some of the most embarrassing parts. But it is one of the most ancient pieces of literature known. And it includes what seems to be an account of the flood that is very similar to the Biblical account, showing that this event was told of throughout the ancient world. It is one of the 3 major studies in English, but it isn't very long.

2. The Cat of Bubastes. This is a GA Henty book that is more like an adventure story, and isn't studied in much depth. It gives a feel for the culture of Ancient Egypt and definitely the Bible stands up easily against Egyptian worship. Here is a quote from Wikipedia about the "Spiritual Themes": Though the novel is set prior to the beginnings of Christianity and focuses on Egyptians rather than Jews, Judeo-Christian themes are still present. The two Rebu, Amuba and Jethro, look at the many Egyptian superstitions and veneration of animals with amusement and disdain. Ameres, the priest of Osiris, is a progressive who has embraced monotheism, believing that the various gods of the Egyptian pantheon actually represent different facets of the character of one true God. The Hebrews are present in parts of Egypt, and, though most have accepted the worship of the Egyptian gods, a few still hold to the religion of the God of Abraham. A servant-girl named Ruth often proclaims her belief in the God of the Hebrews. Moses himself makes a cameo appearance, prior to his call to lead the Exodus from Egypt.

3. Bulfinch's Greek and Roman Mythology. This is where you read the most mythology. I think you could skip some of it, or sub some, but I do think it's important for high schoolers to read a few of these because they are far different from what I call "candy-coated children's versions." There are some disturbing facets here, some randomness and pettiness, and since the student is reading the entire Old Testament at the same time, the student will never be swayed in college by the statement that the Old Testament is no different.

4. The Iliad. This is somewhat optional, so yes, you could skip this one.

5. The Odyssey. This is the 3rd major study in English this year, and it is studied in all the high schools around us. It is very fantastical and it's read late in the school year, so your student should be well prepared by now to compare it to the Bible.


I hope that gives you an idea of what is in there, and what to think about as far as subbing. Here also is a good thread with Bret from the office answering a similar question:
http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=8586
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

GLPerky
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Re: AHL Mythology Question

Unread post by GLPerky » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:54 pm

Thank you, Julie. I got my husband to read what you wrote and it got him on board! Thanks!

Julie in MN
Posts: 2927
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: AHL Mythology Question

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:51 pm

Aw, love to see those hubbies involved. They are so wise.

Best wishes,
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

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