Studies in World History (Master Books)

Aptly named, this new three-volume series by Dr. James Stobaugh provides world history courses for junior high students. It has a slightly different flavor than the traditional history courses from Christian publishers you might be most familiar with. These studies are a combination of first person reports, event "snapshots," worldview analysis, impact studies and the author's personal essays. In short, they provide history for the inquiring middle school mind in search of logical connections. Coupled with user friendliness, these courses can be both independent studies as well as teacher-student discussions.

The scope of the series is global with the rise and fall of various civilizations being the focal coverage. However, the author will often pause to trace the development of an institution (i.e. slavery), an impactful item (i.e. history of the English Bible) or a philosophical concept (i.e. modernism). As primary sources become more plentiful, they are incorporated into the textual information. A biblical and Christian worldview permeates the series.

The Student Book is the textual "heart" of the course and is written directly to the student. Containing 34 chapters (i.e. weeks of lessons), each with five lessons, there is a consistent format for each chapter. Preliminary information includes First Thoughts (perspective and context), Learning Objectives (these show up later as discussion questions), and Concepts (notable people, places, and events). Five daily lessons follow covering history, geography, economics, government, and religion. These general study categories are consistently covered but not necessarily in every chapter. A single Discussion Question concludes each lesson and, frankly, these will involve the student in higher order thinking skills - analysis, synthesis, comparisons, etc. Sometimes a lesson will include the author's personal commentary as in the last lesson in the series on the Age of Augustine (Vol. 1, Chapter 15). Lesson 1 is on Young Augustine; Lesson 2, Augustine's Conversion; Lesson 3, his life as a pastor, Lesson 4, new heresies. The chapter concludes with a personal essay lesson comparing Augustine's political situation (i.e. fall of Rome) to Elijah's story (I Kings 18-19) to our situation today. Illustrations are plentiful (and black and white) in the Student Book and include artwork, artifacts, historical locations, maps, portraits, and photos.

First and foremost, the Teacher Guide is an answer key, although it also includes a very useful daily calendar that lists the daily and weekly assignments. Besides talking points for each of the daily lesson Discussion Questions, the Answer Key also provides answers for objective questions and talking points for the short essays that are an option for the weekly chapter exam. Those chapter exams are also in this book - reproducible for families and small classrooms - and have two parts (or options as they are called). One is a matching activity involving the Concepts from each chapter. The other is a question requiring an analytical short essay answer. The discussion questions for each lesson are available as worksheets. These can be covered as oral discussion or as written short essays. It startled me a bit when I first saw these worksheets. Each is a question accompanied with identifying information (i.e. volume, chapter, lesson) situated on an otherwise blank sheet of paper. The obvious intent is for the page to be reproduced and the student to provide the answer and place into a binder. It would also be possible for the student to complete their work directly in the Teacher Guide as all answer keys are in the back and could be removed completely if desired. The Teacher Guide is three-hole punched.

The series will appeal most to families who want a strongly academic, Christian world history that incorporates both worldview and higher order thinking skills. The series could be completed with the student working independently, although any history/worldview course will be richer with meaningful discussion. ~ Janice

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