AmblesideOnline/House of Education Year 12

History studied in Year 12: Current Times/Post-Modernism

As students mature, their reading material will present more challenging content, and may include strong language and more mature themes. We have placed footnotes linked in red beside those books that most parents will consider an issue. However, we cannot anticipate which content might be an issue for every family. We encourage parents to pre-screen material to determine its appropriateness for their child and family. Note: These booklists and curriculum suggestions are incomplete without a thorough understanding of Charlotte Mason's ideas and methods. We cannot emphasize enough that you take time to familiarize yourself with her philosophy by reading her books.

Detailed weekly schedules for these books are available in various formats:
Html List; PDF; DOC, ODT. If your student is a year behind and you're wishing you could somehow make up a year somewhere to fit this into your student's senior year, AO has a plan to do Years 9, 10 and 11 in two years. See it here.

Table of Contents:

Key: (What do all those symbols mean?)
Book titles are linked to Project Gutenberg (which offers free etexts in a variety of formats) or other online text when no Project Gutenberg text is available.
β -, another free ebook site.
α - free etext at
K - free Kindle text from
(£) Living Books Press purchase using AO's affiliate link.
($amzn) - book purchase using AO's affiliate link.
(K) - Kindle purchase using AO's affiliate link.
Λ - free audiobook at Lit2Go
Ω - free audiobook at Librivox [2]
- other free audiobook source
[0] - Click the bracketed numeral to view any notes about the book near the bottom of the page.
[0] - red footnotes indicate a heads-up for parents about the title. We cannot foresee every incident that might potentially be an issue to every family, but we have red-flagged those that are commonly a concern.
AmblesideOnline is part of's Affiliate program. If you use the Amazon links, we receive a small commission which enables us to cover the costs of keeping the website and curriculum. Amazon links are identified like this: ($amzn) or (K), but we have provided links to free and alternate sources as well.

Asterisks refer to which term the book is used: * Term 1 ** Term 2 *** Term 3

For some thoughts behind the planning of this Year, some encouragement, and an explanation of this very unique AO plan, click here. Take the time to read the footnoted notes and comments; you will not be able to make good decisions about what to include or not without doing so.


History studied in Year 12 is the Current Times

Bible and Christian Theology

Year 12 students should consider reading through the Bible in a year; there are many plans available online.

Devotional Reading


The time period for Year 12 is the 21st century along with a stream of ancient history, with a focus on worldview

Supplements: Speeches [8] [YouTube Playlist]



Government and Economics

AO students who have read all or most of the Economics suggestions for years 9-11 have likely done enough to merit a high school credit for Economics. If you and your student want more reading, we recommend:


Current Events


Miss Mason directed students at this level to keep a Common-place Book for passages that strike them particularly; to learn a hundred lines of poetry; and to be able to give some account of what they have read in each book, with sketches of the chief characters.


Choose an essay or two every week on current events. [28]


Grammar and Composition

AO's Language Arts Scope and Sequence for this level is here.





Optional; (we haven't even looked at these yet)


Some students will have completed their credit requirements by this time; check with your state's requirements.

A four-year living Science plan is being worked on in the forum. In the meantime, we're suggesting these books for year 12:

Nature Study

Continue flower and bird lists of species seen, select a special study for outdoor work, and continue to maintain nature notebooks.


Art (optional)


Continue composer rotation posted at AmblesideOnline. Read biographies of modern (still living) composers.



Foreign Language


Life and Work Skills

Free Reading

(These still need pruning; the Advisory has not read all of these.)


Ancient History:

History and Current Events:









Many thanks to David Hicks, author of Norms and Nobility, for his kind permission to draw from his work and ideas. For more information please see the 1999 edition of his book. ($amzn)


Year 12

Selecting the best books is a challenge that increases with each successive school year, and, in particular, when studying the 21st century. High school students are journeying across the bridge into adulthood, and the books they should read at this level reflect the adult world.

It had long been the plan for Year 12 to be a year of studying ancient history, and several of the Advisory have graduated students with year 12 plans of our own that reflected that idea. Somehow, we never found the right books to make an official year 12, and the experience of our older children going out into the world has given us more insight into their needs than we had previously. Looking again at CM's own history plans, we find that she never studied ancient history in a consecutive way, but allowed the extensive reading in Plutarch to provide that background for her pupils. We decided that Plutarch was enough for us, too (along with the history studied in year 6), and shifted the focus of year 12 from ancient history to the world we live in today. However, the "history" for this year does not neglect the ancients. We want to give our young adults an overview of human thought and ideas from ancient times to the present day, to let them see the way shifting thought has affected history, and to bring that perspective to bear on the post-modern world in which we all have to live today.

We also recognize that most Year 12 students will have their own interests, jobs, projects, or dual enrollments that take up time, and we therefore have deliberately kept our Year 12 lighter (and with fewer salad-bar choices to make) than earlier HEO years. The books we have chosen for this year are intended as an antidote to post-modernism. When they begin this year, most students will only be a few months away from moving into the adult world and engaging with new people, places, and ideas. We want the work they do this year to give them insight into that world, and a framework for understanding it.

While previewing the content of mountains of books for the HEO high school years, we've been constantly aware that we cannot predict how far across that bridge to adulthood other people's children may be. Families vary greatly in their views on sheltering, protecting and preparing for adulthood, so it would be futile for us to attempt to be the censor or guardian (the bridge troll?) for all House of Education Online scholars. We set a very high standard for HEO materials, and we've gone the extra mile and beyond to create and provide a Year 12 prototype that reflects excellence. However, by no means do we claim to have done all the work for you! It remains the homeschool parent's job, most particularly on the high school level, to assume full responsibility for matching your child's sensitivities and sensibilities, and your family's standards, with the books you select for study.

In the booklist below, we've offered a few notes on potential concerns in certain books, but it goes without saying that we have not noted every potential concern in every book. Please understand that the absence of a comment does not mean the absence of anything your particular family might find offensive or inappropriate.

We feel that this Year 12 book list is in keeping with Charlotte Mason's principles, but it isn't the only possible way to "do" CM in high school. You are free to use it en toto, piecemeal, or simply as an example to consider.

Before beginning Year 12, we suggest that you read (or reread) volume 6 of Charlotte Mason's six volume set. Volume 5 may also be helpful to you. Both are available online, as free e-texts You'll also find it useful to scan the sample Programmes from Miss Mason's own PNEU school, which are linked from the AmblesideOnline homepage. Forms V and VI are the ones relevant to Year 12. You'll find a wealth of helpful articles at AmblesideOnline, so plan to spend a few evenings exploring the site. It's also helpful to have on hand a good current book on homeschooling through high school. And you'll find terrific support on the forum - we welcome you to subscribe and participate!

Blessings to you, and happy high schooling!
The Advisory

2. Note on Audiobooks: While links to audio books are added as a courtesy, Miss Mason's approach to grammar and composition is heavily dependent upon the children receiving an immense amount of visual exposure to the written word over many years, so parents should exercise extreme caution in how many audiobooks they use each year. Our brains just work differently when we see the words. (Cindy Rollins did a Circe Mason jar podcast that included the role of audiobooks with difficult books.) For children who have difficulty reading, one solution is to have them follow the audio version along in a written text. (Back)

4. Christian responses to Islam: balanced, neighborly, but suggests that Christians distance themselves from Zionism (Back)

6. Wisdom of History course: 36 half-hour lectures. This option is highly recommended, but only for those who have access to it; some libraries carry these. (Back)

8. Speech Details:(Back)

George Walker Bush - 9/11 Address to the Nation or here - "A Great People Has Been Moved to Defend a Great Nation." This speech is chilling, and brings back memories of that blue-sky day and the smoke seen in the distant sky and the quiet of the rest of that day (no planes flew after that). This and the following two speeches are vital to understanding what America -- and the world -- experienced as a result of 9/11.

President Bush's bullhorn speech or here - given from atop the pile at Ground Zero, just three days after. It is just about two minutes long - but it shows a tiny piece of the intensity of the feeling at that time. It's vital, and moving.

Bush's September 20th speech to joint session of Congress or here - an hour long; very educational, and a phenomenal and important speech. It is stirring and inspiring to see the entire body rise in unified support of their nation - fairly unprecedented in modern times. Whatever happened since then, it is important to understand the enemy, the cause, the fight of that time. It is a history lesson in Islamic fundamentalism and in the struggle of people everywhere for freedom. Bush's passion here reflects the nation (their standing ovations are evidence of this as well), and is a contrast to the shock in his face for the shorter speech to the nation on September 11th itself.

Barack Hussein Obama - 2004 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address or here - His "Audacity of hope" speech.

Steve Jobs - Commencement Address at Stanford University, 2005 or here (optional)

Thomas Dale DeLay - Farewell Address to the U.S. House of Representatives 2006 or here - "Partisanship is the worst means of settling fundamental political differences -- except for all the others." This speech goes beyond partisanship. It is also an appeal to the nation's legislative body to do something about foster care in America. Very powerful.

Bono at the 2006 National Prayer Breakfast or here - He addresses AIDS and what has been done by America and people of faith to help eradicate it, and what still needs to be done. It is an unexpected speech, but very inspiring, and speaks to an enormous crisis, one that students must recognize - and realize they can do something about it.

Robert Michael Gates - Address to the World Forum on the Future of Democracy 2007 or here - Such depth of knowledge about the history of freedom and democracy, sort of how we got here and where we are going.

Jessica Dawn Lynch - "The Truth is Always More Heroic than the Hype" 2007 or here Lynch's story is shocking. Though she does not see herself as a hero -- and that is the whole point, that she was not the Rambo she was depicted (falsely by the government) -- her sacrifice as a US soldier causes the viewer to wonder what it is, in fact, that merits being called a hero. Perhaps she is, more than she thinks. It is also a stark reminder of man's sinfulness, not just that there is war, but that some choose to lie about what happens in it.

Ryne Dee Sandberg - Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Address 2007 or here - This is a nice speech, classic thanking everyone and reviewing one's own accomplishments and dreams. It has impact now because of the steroid scandals that plague so much of sports today. Respecting the game - any game, as with life - is far better than cheating.

Binyamin Netanyahu - 2009 Speech to the United Nations General Assembly or here - Netanyahu speaks here like an Old Testament prophet, defending the Jewish nation. A vital speech.

Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs) TED talk, 20 min Learning from dirty jobs or here

Chimamanda Ngochie Adichie's Danger of a Single Story 2009

Here I Stand: Valedictorian Erica Goldson Speaks Out Against Schooling 2010 - Great stuff. Channeling John Taylor Gatto and Mencken, and challenging everything the academes and their followers have believed. Text here.

Michael Nutter - Mount Carmel Baptist Church Address 2011 or here - Slow-going in the beginning but then it's excellent and powerful. A perspective from an African-American leader that needs to be heard.

David McCullough, Jr. - Wellesley High School Commencement Speech 2012 or here - Son of the incredible historian David McCullough; this commencement speech (at Wellesley High School; he is an English teacher there) is what every high school student needs to hear. He rips apart the over excess of the Self-Esteem movement with great sarcasm and humor and truth - and reminds us (though he does not say it) - it is in Christ we have our worth, not in the self.

Salman Khan: 2012 commencement address at MIT or here; text - "Live your life like it's your second chance." Mr. Khan Academy himself. A fascinating individual, and a worthy speech. Hard to watch without his little black board with the drawings, though. :-)

Obama's Speech on Human Trafficking 2013 or here

Donald Trump's speech in Warsaw - 2017; Transcript considered a defining speech of his presidency.

Donald Trump, March for Life Rally - 2018 - the first time a president addressed the March for Life (live); from a gathering in the Rose Garden (Reagan had sent pre-recorded messages) And this, from when Trump attended the March for Life itself in person in 2020, the first US president to do so. You can see Alveda King (MLK Jr's niece) behind him. (optional)

Donald Trump's July Fourth Mount Rushmore speech - 2020 (Back)

10. Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle contains some eyebrow-raising language. (Back)

12. Geography: Miss Mason's students at this level were expected to "know from Atlas something about foreign regions coming most into note in the newspaper, and in connection with history etc. studied. Summarize readings by memory maps on blackboard."
Geosafari would be sufficient. SeterraOnline offers Free Map Quiz Games. If you have an iPad or iPhone, TapQuiz is a free map quiz app.
Many countries have a tourism department, and writing to their embassies for free brochures, maps, and other travel information might be an inexpensive way to supplement geography studies. The World and I, listed under current events, is a rich resource for this purpose also. (Back)

14. Government: High School students will need to earn credit for basic government. This material can be done in Year 9, 10, 11 or 12. Some options:

16. PragerU's free video clips "explain and spread what we call 'Americanism' through the power of the Internet. Our five-minute videos are conservative sound bites that clarify profoundly significant and uniquely American concepts. . . We help millions of people understand the fundamental values that shaped America." Transcripts are linked under each video. (Back)

18. A Meaningful World: refers to Hamlet and The Tempest; students should have read both. Year 12 is built around this book. If you decide to pare down by skipping a book, don't skip this one! (Back)

20. The Marketing of Evil - full title is "The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom." (Back)

22. Ourselves: approximately 22 pages per term. This book will continue through all the remaining years of AO/HEO curriculum. This is the 4th volume of Mason's 6 Volume Series. This year: pages 68-136 of Book 2
Also available in a modern English paraphrase that can be read online or purchased. (K) The paraphrase of Book 2, Self-Direction, the second half of Volume 4, can be purchased as a separate paperback book.
Term 1: Book 2 pg 137-155
Term 2: Book 2 pg 156-173
Term 3: Book 2 pg 174-202 (Back)

24. Charlotte Mason had students at this level read the daily news and keep a calendar of events. World magazine is an excellent resourse for this. We suggest students choose the most important 2 or 3 stories of the week and re-write them in their own words as a chronicle of the year, making the heading of each page something like "This Week in History, September 1st, 2003." Parents: pre-read and filter current events materials (on the web, or in print) as necessary, due to the potential for coverage and topics of an explicit nature, even from conservative sources. We've listed some possible options here.
Blogs as a media form have rapidly overtaken hard-copy publications. News is being reported there, in some cases, faster and more accurately than other, older media forms. Students should learn about them, find one they trust, and check it regularly. However, we recommend that parents first become familiar with blogs and visit the one(s) their children will frequent. We suggest several poliblogs here, but parents should know that not every message on these blogs will be 'child-friendly' and often have ads that include scantily clad women. Also, most blogs link to a multitude of other blogs and sites that may not be child-friendly.
Comments posted on blogs can be considered a new media equivalent of a letter to the editor, and students should learn how to communicate well on blogs. (Back)

26. Till We Have Faces: Lewis said this was his best work. Retelling of Cupid and Psyche. (Back)

28. Students should read an essay/article or two per week on a current event topic such as diversity/tolerance, feminism, LGBT, immigration, sanctity of life, abortion, separation of church and state, illicit temptation/pornography, technical/media use, climate change, media bias, education and culture, GMO's. Choose from online, periodicals, or compilations such as Is Reality Optional?, by Thomas Sowell,, or . . . The Advisory started an ongoing list of suggested articles and essays collected from online, which you can view here.
Essays may be used for dictation work. After studying essays, students should be prepared to tackle writing essays on subjects they choose. One possible usage is to have students read an essay on Monday, outline it on Tuesday, rewrite it from their outline on Wednesday, and polish up that rough draft on Thursday. Note: In PNEU's Form III, a paragraph was dictated; in Form IV, selections were occasionally written from memory. You might occasionally assign the student's mastered work for the dictation lesson. Forms V and VI also wrote: "A good precis. Letter to The Times on topics of the day. Essays on subjects taken from the term's work in History and Literature and Economics; or, write on a picture studied, or on some aspect of nature." (Back)

30. AO's Language Arts Scope and Sequence for this level is here. Assign 3 to 5 written narrations each week, varying the assignments among subjects, and assigning some narrations to be written from readings done earlier in the week. For example: On Tuesdays, the student would read the scheduled Literature, news of the week, historical or allegorical subjects, etc. Then on Thursdays, the student would write a narration of one of those readings. Narration can be done in many ways: poetic, in answer to an essay-style question, straight narration, narration in letter-writing form, and many other creative ways. Write verses (perhaps using metre of poems set for this term) on current events and characters in the term's reading, upon heroic deeds, or on seasonal scenes. Write Narrative poems on striking events. (Back)

32. Paradigm Online Writing Assistant: Karen Glass: Paradigm Online Writing Assistant is a whole online free course about writing four kinds of essays. I haven't explored the whole thing, but I like what I've seen so far. This is the link to the section on writing a support essay. At the top of the page, you can see the progression of the whole course. (Back)

34. Dictation: The student studies two or three pages of dictation material per week, from which the teacher dictates several paragraphs or sections. Students should have the opportunity to study the passage carefully for spelling, punctuation and form before they are required to write it from dictation. At this level, you may wish for your student to alternate between taking dictation in the traditional way by hand, and with a word processor (an added benefit here is the spellchecker function, which can be a useful teaching tool and actually functions in a manner complementary to CM's spelling methods.)
Dictation selections may be drawn from sources such as the term's prose, poetry and Bible readings. You may also occasionally choose to assign selections from well-written journalism sources to exemplify a more technical and factual style of writing. However, choose carefully as newspapers and magazines are often poorly written. Examples of worthy sources might include World Magazine, and columnists such as Peggy Noonan, William F. Buckley, William Raspberry, Charles Krauthammer, Cal Thomas, George Will, and Thomas Sowell, most of whom are accessible from (site will need screening by parent; daily entries are increasingly and disturbingly non-family-friendly). Another good resource for exemplary journalism is from the Wall Street Journal. Writers from these sources are prolific and skilled at the craft of writing. The New Yorker magazine is known for being expertly written and edited, but may require parental previewing.
You may also select among these essays for dictation work. These provide a good starting point for the essay form of writing. After two or three terms of studying Lamb's essays, students should be prepared to tackle writing essays on subjects they choose. One possible usage is to have students read an essay on Monday, outline it on Tuesday, rewrite it from their outline on Wednesday, and polish up that rough draft on Thursday.
Note: In PNEU's Form III, a paragraph was dictated; in Form IV, selections were occasionally written from memory. You might occasionally assign the student's mastered recitation work for the dictation lesson. (Back)

36. Henrietta Lacks had a sad childhood that included abuse, which the book does not gloss over. We do not recommend this book for a younger student. (Back)

38. Charlotte Mason's students were learning three languages at this level. A good English/foreign language dictionary is also recommended.
You might find that your foreign language studies cover enough grammar to be counted as English Grammar as well. (Back)

40. Regular Exercise: One Advisory suggestion: For routine fitness, Living Arts' Pilates videos/DVD's offer a challenging but enjoyable 30 minute mat workout that will benefit the entire family. Instructor Ana Caban gives clear and concise verbal cues that even young children can follow with a little guidance (even a 3 yob! ;-) and the background music is neither loud nor distracting. Start with the Beginning Mat Workout video/DVD ($amzn), which explains the basics, before advancing to the Intermediate Mat Workout ($amzn). Another suggestion: Leslie Sansone's Walking DVD's: Start! Walking ($amzn), Walk Away the Pounds ($amzn).
Learn and play a game (kick ball, tennis, croquet, ping-pong, bocce ball, softball, racquetball, volleyball, soccer, etc.) or take up hiking, swimming, folk-dancing, hula dancing, clogging, Scottish dancing, Irish dancing (purchase Celtic Feet DVD or pursue other physical activity of your choice.
Another option is Swedish Drill Revisited by AO mom Dawn Duran purchase
The Inner Game of Tennis, by Timothy Gallwey (PE) (Back)

42. Nutrition: You may wish to consider books by Shonda Parker ($earch), a Christian homeschooling mother and certified herbalist.
Other suggestions:
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Weston A. Price ($amzn)
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan ($amzn) (K)
Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World, by Joel Salatin ($amzn) (K)
Other Possibilities:
The Locavore's Dilemma, by Pierre Desrochers
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon
Harvest For Hope, by Jane Goodall
Naturally Healthy Woman, by Shonda Parker
Mommy Diagnostics, by Shonda Parker
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver (duplicates Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma)
An Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan
In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan
Why I Am Afraid to Tell You Who I Am, by John Powell
What the Bible Says About Healthy Living, by Rex Russell
Taking Charge of Your Fertility, by Toni Weschler (Back)

44. Work and Life Skills: Charlotte Mason had students do house or garden work, make Christmas presents, pursue useful crafts, sew, cook, and learn first aid. She also suggested that the student help darn and mend garments from the wash each week and sew for charity (serving at a soup kitchen would also work). We suggest that over the course of high school, your student might do the following (a rough guideline would be to choose about three of these per year for the next four years):
Learn to cook using a basic cookery book such as Joy of Cooking ($amzn), Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook ($amzn), The Cook's Illustrated How-to Cook Library (K), Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything ($amzn), one of Sue Gregg's cookbooks ($earch), or whatever you have on hand.
Learn CPR and first aid (This can also be counted for Health.)
Learn to balance a checking account
Learn to read a map
Read a book about Small Engine Repair
Take a course in Driver's Ed
Work with an Election Campaign
Learn to garden and/or yard care
Change a flat tire
Use jumper cables
Pump gas, change the oil and plugs on a car
Make some simple furniture
Lay a tile floor
Paint a room
Some basic home repair and maintenance
The Walls Around Us, by David Owen ($amzn) is a well-written book about how our houses are built, but it needs some previewing or parental editing.
Miss Mason frequently recommended Scouting tests (Parents' Review, May 1920) and said that all girls should take the First Aid and Housecraft Tests. We suggest that all students learn CPR and First Aid. Scouting or 4-H are other options to consider.
Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House, by Cheryl Mendelson (excellent resource for all homes) ($amzn) (K)
The Hidden Art of Homemaking, by Edith Schaeffer ($amzn)
Do I Dust or Vacuum First?, by Don Aslett ($amzn)
books by Emilie Barnes ($earch)
Get More Done in Less Time, by Donna Otto ($amzn)
Speed Cleaning, by Jeff Campbell ($amzn)
Who Says it's a Woman's Job to Clean?, by Don Aslett ($amzn)
     (These last two may be particularly useful with boys.)
Books by Larry Burkett ($earch; K) or Dave Ramsey ($earch)
The Tightwad Gazette books by Amy Dacyczyn ($earch) (Back)

Have a Question? Get Free Consulting on the AO Forum!
Ask a Question on our AO Forum!