Old Western Culture

A Christian Approach to the Great Books! Mortimer Adler - primary editor for the compilation of the well-known set of ageless literary masterpieces called the Great Books - considered them a conversation. He felt our primary motivation in reading them should be to participate in that great conversation. Wesley Callihan and Roman Roads Media have added an important element for Christians. Mr. Callihan maintains that the great conversation must lead to truth - God's truth. His goal in teaching this course? That high school Christians would have the opportunity and the ability to participate in the great conversation in a meaningful way that leads to truth. Old Western Culture is an integrated humanities curriculum that provides a well-rounded education for the classical student from a Christian perspective.

Taken into a video classroom - albeit a comfortable and cozy one - the student finds himself immersed in classical literature assignments, knowledgeable commentary, captivating artwork, absorbing discussion questions, and meaningful writing assignments; emerging with a full credit in literature, a half credit in history, and a half credit of philosophy/theology for each year of the course. To my way of thinking, there's also enough material for a ¼ credit in Art Appreciation. Ultimately, this will be a four-year course of study (Year 1 - The Greeks, Year 2 - The Romans, Year 3 - Christendom, and Year 4 - The Moderns); currently only Year 1 is available. Each year is divided into four independent units but also sold as a set. This allows for some flexibility (and the opportunity to spread out the expense).

Each unit contains 12 lectures (yes, they really are lectures although you'll feel as though you are sitting in a cozy chair across from your mentor). These lectures/discussions introduce the literary work, summarize the most important elements of the text, and analyze the themes, background, and surrounding history as well as the importance of the works and their influence in history and western thought. Students are assigned readings from the original works (the average daily reading load is 30-40 pages) as well as comprehension questions in the workbook that cover both the readings and the lecture.

The videos are well-done, professionally incorporating material from blackboard "sidebars," definitions, quotes, timelines, art, and historical places. The DVD set for each unit includes four DVD-ROMs, the student workbook (on PDF) and teacher's edition (PDF) and a small booklet-form "Guide to the Art" that includes a comprehensive list of artwork by lesson plus small, full-color reproductions and background info of major pieces from each lecture. Each DVD-ROM for each unit includes the video lectures as well as the PDFs of the student workbook and the teacher's edition. The Student Workbook provides the comprehension questions mentioned previously. Quarterly term papers allow students to explore an area of interest with more in-depth creativity. The Teacher's Edition includes both an answer key and quarterly exams. ~ Janice




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