Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ancient World History (China): Confucius by Russell Freeman

In our study of ancient history and literature, we explored the life and legacy of Confucius.   Russell Freeman, renowned author of children’s biographies, wrote
Confucius: The Golden Rule which we used as our primary text.  

Freeman begins with a brief synopsis of Confucius’ life.  In short sections, different areas are explored—his early life, his dangerous ideas, his travels, his golden rule, his final years, and his legacy.   Interspersed are ancient illustrations of Confucius and China.   In conclusion, Russell Freeman offers some insight into his research and makes suggestions for further reading. 

Evaluation:
Freeman’s biography is an ideal introduction into this legendary man of the orient.   Confucius: The Golden Rule is a combination of factual details, legendary stories, and snapshots of the sage’s life.  Since I was only familiar his name, I enjoyed the engaging, concise text.  Most of the sections are short enough for reading out loud to students without overwhelming them with information.   If you want a  brief overview of this historical figure for yourself or your students/children, you will enjoy this book. 

Teaching Opportunities:
·         First, I read an overview of Confucius’ life from the Mystery of History curriculum.
·         Next, I read Confucius: The Golden Rule over a period of several days.  Each day I reviewed briefly with my children to see what they remember, and I connected his ideas to some of the current ones we hold to today, such as education should be open to all, citizens should question their government, and the role of government is to benefit all people.
·         Then, we connected Confucius to other influential men of the era who were in different parts of the world like Buddha and Pythagoras.
·         Finally, I compiled this handout as an overview of the highlights of Confucius' life to help organize the information and to assist in reviewing it in the future. 

3 comments:

  1. Russell Freedman's books are fantastic!!! They're a super way to learn history without the "bore factor."

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  2. I agree, Kathy. I have read several of his books. They are always brilliant.

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