Monday, April 6, 2009
TruthQuest History Review: Ancient Rome
I think I'm in love. Really. I think I might just have found exactly what I have been looking for for YEARS, and it is mind boggling to me that it comes in a book that cost $24.95. Simply amazing!
I should preface this review with the following information; I have a B.S. in Social Science Education...and a minor in History. If there's one topic I should feel comfortable teaching, it should be history. Add to that the fact that I've been putting some serious time into Bible study over the past decade. I've studied Precept Upon Precept for years now in addition to going to church that believes in expository teaching, so I feel like I have a decent grasp on the basic truths of God's word (which is not AT ALL meant to imply that I don't have a plethora of things still to learn or that I don't still quicken at each new truth He reveals to me). The reason I share all this with you is this: even with all that knowledge about my Creator and man's history, I have no idea to MERGE the two. See, all my personal education (with the exception of 4th grade at a private Lutheran school) was secular. I learned history from man's perspective. The history of man and man's accomplishments. And all of my personal Bible Study has given me a real appreciation for God and His creation and His sovereignty over the prosperity (or lack there of) of the nations. But how to blend the two...and then teach it to my kids? I was at a total loss.
So over the past few years I have been on a quest trying to find the right curriculum for us. One that assisted me in teaching my children history through the Biblical Worldview that I never learned as a child. And I've tried a few-some popular favorites and one almost no one has heard of. They were all good, but not quite what I was looking for.
Enter TruthQuest. I must admit, while the cover of the books look vaguely familiar, I had never really looked in to TruthQuest at all. And it's not one of those, "pick it up at convention, flip through the pages, and have a real grasp on how it works" sort of curriculums. TruthQuest challenges you to change ever preconceived notion you have about what history IS. Stop looking at it as man's story and start seeing it in terms of the Creator's story. How's this for different? TruthQuest uses the premise that "mankind is not the prime force in the universe ...God is. He initiates; we respond." TruthQuest focuses on two main questions:Who is God? and Who then is mankind?. In each time period that you study, you ask those questions, and with each book that you read from the booklist, you seek to apply those questions to what you are reading. Sometimes, the God from that period is really a god...or gods, as the case was in Ancient Rome. And learning who those gods are, and how the people viewed them and what the people were in relationship to their god(s) helps you answer the second question of who then mankind is. It's such an eye-opening way of viewing things!
Beyond what I've already said, I think there are many pros to this curriculum. The book list is extensive and chronological. But the author, Michelle Miller, is very careful to say over and over that you should NOT try to read all the books listed-in fact one of two will suffice. And while the booklist is extensive to offer you lots of choices for those at the mercy of their local libraries, she also points out that you don't HAVE to use those books at all if you can't find them. I'm impressed by the depth of these books. The study of Ancient Rome has 32 sections! And every so often they include a "ThinkWrite" that poses questions your child can either answer on paper or just discuss aloud. I love that what makes this curriculum more than just a glorified booklist is the commentary by the author that continually turns your focus back to God and His plan. Scripture that pertains to the time period is either fully quoted in the commentary or referenced and footnoted so you can look it up. And finally, it's very helpful that every book given has the suggested grade level, although again the author points out that YOU are sovereign in your home so you should be the judge of all content.
I'm hard pressed to find any cons, but I can see that for a person who likes to have each day scheduled for them by their curriculum, this would not be the curriculum for you. This is all about flexibility, and it may seem a bit loosey-goosey to the "recreate school at home" crowd.
The thing that impresses me even more than the curriculum itself is the loyalty of the people who use it. The ONLY negative comments I read anywhere where from people who preferred a more concrete form of schooling and struggled with this literature based approach. The people who use this curriculum love it with a passion I've rarely seen.
TruthQuest has many different offerings, including American History for the lower elementary grades, and then world/American histories (by time period) for grades 5-12 (although you could easily do them with younger kids too, especially with younger siblings. The complete list of books, and sample lessons, are available HERE. I think I might have been the only one to review Ancient Rome, so if you want to read about some of the other books and what the other TOS Reviewers thought, please go HERE.