January 16, 2008 § Leave a comment
Yesterday we took a walk through the yard to investigate the plants that we have growing. We were on the look out for angiosperm, gymnosperm, seedless vascular plants, and non-vascular seedless plants. We took small samples and photo. The children illustrated the samples on pages that will be going into their books. Tomorrow they will work on the narration for the pages. It should all bind up nicely.
Our history is concentrating on Ancient Greece. Christopher is working on a portfolio of various aspects of Greek society and culture. I am using a prepared book to guide us along in this but I am finding that I have to fact check the stupid thing so much I am basically just using it for the illustrations and crafts. It is sort of funny as one little thing caught my eye and caused me to look further.
The book claimed that Spartan woman often married at 15 and received little education. This is patently incorrect women in Sparta had rights that surpassed nearly every other woman in the ancient world. In addition to being educated they also owned outright approximately 40% of the land and controlled most the rest. The same laws that bound Spartan men to the military left the women at the helm of civil society and commerce. They also rarely married in their teens and a woman who died in child birth was given the honor of a tombstone with her name, something reserved for men who died in victorious battle and a few other noble instances. They were barred from war and state government only but so were most men. Only those men who could complete the rigours demands of Spartan military service were given the title citizen.
Of course this leads to a rather sad idea. One of two things happened here. Either the writer and publisher of this book dropped the ball and didn’t fact check and lazily went with some source that was unreliable. OR they knew they were fudging but for some reason like the idea that Sparta women married at 15 and received no education. I think their biases are showing: Education can only happen in a classroom and Woman are victims. Spartan girls did not get trucked off to school with their brothers at the age of seven. Instead they learned at home taught by their families and tutors. This (in the minds of some educational professionals) means they received no real education.
I have often pointed out to my own daughter that in many cultures and times she, at the tender age of 15, would be very seriously looking at becoming or already be a wife in charge of her own home and household. The funny thing is she doesn’t look at this with horror but more a sort of awe that a young woman would be expected to manage servants, home production of clothing and food, maintenance of the property, in some cultures the planting and harvesting of crops, perhaps wine making, olive pressing, carding, spinning, and weaving, and the care and education of her children. I just really don’t get the odd fascination that I find over and over again with the idea that woman were pathetic chattel dominated by oppressive men who wanted to keep them stupid and worthless when history and plain common sense say otherwise.
I would much rather my children look through history at the beauty and honor of women. How they have worked their looms, tended their homes and gardens, made good cheese and raised their children. I defiantly don’t want them too look at woman as historical victims. Victims are often worthy of pity, but they usually do not inspire respect.