British History: Observations and Assessments from Creation to Today, Student Book & Teacher Book
It is a great concept, but...
I did a little background work on James Stobaugh before I did this review. I strongly considered using his literature and history courses for this school year. Designed to be used together, if desired, they make a strong team.
This British History course is designed to be an approach to studying history that will build critical thinking skills in your high school student. The publisher, New Leaf Publishing Group, is notable for publishing high-quality books that adhere to a Biblical worldview. I knew from the product description that Stobaugh's history courses would aim to view history through the lens of this Biblical worldview.
What I like:
I like that the course is largely designed to be completed independently. It is set up so that the student has a reading assignment and an essay question (or two) to be answered each day for four days. On the fifth day, the student will have an exam, which can be found in the teacher book and is also essay format. (Answers to the questions can usually be answered in 1-2 paragraphs).
Sometimes these questions are answered directly in the text, and sometimes they need to be thought about a bit more deeply. I love the thought process that these questions stir up.
I appreciate the comfortable pace of the curriculum. Each day's work can be completed in around 30 minutes. My son knows exactly what he should do and when he is done.
I think it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: I love the fact that it is history presented with a Biblical worldview. Our children need to be thinkers, and they need to be guided in thinking Biblically now so that they may continue to do so as adults.
What I do not like:
I do not care for the all black-and-white text. It is a tradeoff for a lower cover price, and I certainly appreciate that! But the black-and-white pictures are dull. On a positive side, we did look up interesting pictures online to see them in full color.
I think the daily reading assignments are too brief. The reading level is a stretch for me, let alone my avid-reading 15-year-old. I understand the course is supposed to inspire creative thinking, but this is very difficult here. There is not enough information provided, and what is provided is sometimes done so in a way that is boring or difficult to understand. This does not help me love history more!
Trying to answer the open-ended questions with not enough (clear) information was not only frustrating for me, it was definitely frustrating for my son. Yet he made a valiant attempt! I was proud of his answers and simply baffled when I read the "suggested answers" in the teacher book. Cathy Duffy says in her review, "Students who have not yet learned how to think will either find these courses refreshingly stimulating or frustratingly overwhelming." Um, ME!!! I find it "frustratingly overwhelming." Unfortunately for Cathy Duffy, I do NOT think that means that I have not yet learned how to think. Nor do I think that about my son. He gives intelligent, thoughtful answers to many other assignments in different subjects. He writes nearly as well as he reads. I think it simply means she understands the noble goals of the course and does not see from our perspective how a lack of information can hinder achievement of the goals. The exam questions are possibly more baffling than the text questions.
I decided after Chapter 1 that I would not ask my son to do any more unless he would like to try (while I continued to read the book). But I don't see how he can get a good background in British History with this course. I don't see how I can fairly assess him when he does not come close to the "suggested answers" on the exams. I can not penalize his grade for not achieving chapter goals, if the chapter itself has not provided a basis for achieving such goals. I'm wary of other positive reviews that exist, and I wonder if anyone has actually tried this course with their child.
After spending the first two months of our school year using "living books" from the library to study Ancient Greece, I found this course paled in comparison to reading real books. I love the structure of British History by James Stobaugh. I love that each day concludes with thought-provoking questions. I just wish that the text gave us more to work with. You can ask all the questions you like, and they can be good questions, but if you do not provide the information needed (and I'm not asking for chopped up bits of facts to spit out), you are asking an impossible task.
I'm so thankful to Newleaf Publishing Group and MasterBooks for providing me with complimentary copies of the student and teacher books in an exchange for my honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
October 26, 2012
Good British History
My 15 year old daughter loves history so we were very excited to receive British History Observations and Assessments from Early Cultures to Today, a year long high school course that is part of a new history series by James P. Stobaugh. The course is designed to be completed in 34 weeks and includes the following topics: Early England, Anglo-Saxon Invasions, the Norman Conquest, Elizabethan Age, the Early Stuarts, Whigs and Tories, the British Empire, the Age of Napolean, the Industrial Revolution, Victorian Age, Moderism, Causes of World War I, Totalitarianism, World War II and the Cold War, and the End of an Empire. 34 chapters include 5 daily lessons that take about 30 minutes to complete. Every day there is a short reading then an assignment to follow. On the 5th day there is a chapter exam.
Lessons contain the following components:
Critical thinking questions based on Bloom's Taxonomy
Examinations of historical theories surrounding a period or topic
Clarified terms, concepts, and theories to be learned
History makers who changed the course of history
Overviews and insights into world views
I love that the book is very visually appealing. Throughout the lessons there are beautiful black and white drawings, pictures, and photographs that go along with the lessons. The format of the book makes it very easy for students to complete the lessons on their own. Lessons are short and to the point. The course is written from a Christian perspective.
The text is very brief. That was disappointing to my history lover who wanted there to be more information on each topic. Some of the questions require searching outside sources in order to find the answer. The exam questions are not included in the Student book, but are found in the back of the Teacher's Guide.
I received a complimentary student book and teacher's guide of British History from New Leaf Publishing Group for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.
August 3, 2012
British History w/ Christian Worldview for HS
From the Celt Warriors to the Present day, your Highschool student will learn all about British History from a Christian Worldview presented by author James Stobaugh.
This newest offering from Master Books, History Observations & British Assessments from Early Cultures to Today contains 34 chapters with 5 lessons each. Each lesson will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes and consists of a short reading section with critical thinking questions. Some of these questions can be deduced from the reading, some require thinking 'outside the box' and a few require you to search out the answer in other materials. At the end of each week's lessons is a short exam.
I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book - a WHOLE book just on Britain.....awesome!
Once I got to the section on Druids and "Why is Halloween a dangerous, anti-Christian Holiday?" I was HOOKED! I read through the Early Roman Influence, Christianity in England, Age of Exploration, Elizabethan Life and a wonderful section on the King James Bible in a non-stop session before 'life called'.
Growing up I didn't have a great experience learning history. What I do know I've learnt mostly from teaching my own children. So, to get a second opinion, I handed this book to our own resident teen-aged History-buff . His take was a wee-bit different.
From early on in our Homeschool we've studied History using living books and a lot of hands-on activities. So, for him, History is fascinating!! While he liked this book, he thought the lessons were a little too short. He kept asking for more information, more information, more information!
So, in our opinion, this would be a great study for someone who hasn't studied much History -or- doesn't particularly care for the subject -or- just wants a straight up study of History without additional readings, literature suggestions or mapwork.
Take a peek inside.
I received a teacher and student book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
April 8, 2012