I am using this curriculum to teach Government to my daughter, a high school senior who is more interested in Science and getting on with her life than learning about her country's government. With that said, you may understand my frustration.
First and most importantly, Mr. Notgrass has loaded this curriculum with lots of important information and the encouragement to use the info to make your own decisions about the issues. He explains the ideas and goals that the founding fathers had in mind when constructing our government...even the views of those who disagreed with the outcome! He then goes on to describe how our government works by explaining the constitution, piece by piece. Along the way he also explains the struggles to follow the constitution and the checks and balances that were meant to keep everyone in their boundaries. He goes on to cover the workings of state and local government as well as government budgets and taxes. The last section deals with the issues that voters are debating and deciding about today; issues concerning healthcare, the economy, and terrorism. All of this is presented from a Biblical worldview with the intention to get the student thinking and making informed decisions.
The student who will most benefit is the future lawyer or politician. Plenty of opportunities for debate are presented throughout the book. Since my daughter is going to study animals, not politics, she is feeling rather overwhelmed with all the details. This is not a "just learn how to vote" course or an easy grade. The student should not only be prepared to memorize facts (and lots of them) but to analyze and express their opinion about those facts. One of the activities is to write a letter to a newpaper describing "which functions of the bureaucracy seem appropiate, and which seem redundant, unnecessary, or unconstitutional." My daughters response was, "How would I know?" In her 17 years she hasn't been concerned about big government. If your student hasn't wrestled with the issues before taking this course, then consider stretching it out to a full year.
Hence, my frustration. I had planned on only spending half a year as Mr. Notgrass suggested. Well, we won't be done until spring! My daughter is learning to apply herself to a course that she feels is unnecessarily too detailed. This is a very complete government course. It produces wonderful citizens who know how to participate in their government with wisdom. But to use it most effectively, consider taking a full year to complete it!
This text is worth the investment. I like the way the author begins with the foundation of government by God and then a history of governments with their virtues and vices. I also like that he explains how government was set up to work, but also includes how it actually functions. We Hold These Truths is a wonderful collection of essays and government documents. They are given as extra reading assignments after each lesson. The text is easy enough to read, but the concepts are high school level, as are the concepts and readings of the government documents. It says the publication date is 2006, but my copy I ordered from CBD has a picture in it dated 2008.