Beginning way back in 1985 when I was in 5th grade, my parents took the plunge and began teaching me at home. Even today I am overwhelmed by the plethora of curriculum choices that we have, and wonder how my own education would have been different had my parents the choices that I have now. And every now and then, when a product comes up with The Crew, I think that I would have enjoyed taking that subject.
Which is why I decided to review Roman Roads Media's Old Western Culture: The Greeks.
What It Is:
This is an online/DVD based history curriculum that uses the Great Books to teach literature, philosophy, art, geography, and doctrine. Meant for students 8th grade through adults, this course has four sections:
Each section is meant to take nine weeks so the entire course would take a year to go through.
I went through the first unit, The Epics, but did watch various lectures from the other units so that I could see an overview of the entire course.
The Epics covers both the Iliad and Odyssey. These poems which are attributed to Homer, are historical bards of The Trojan War. Through the lessons, questions, and reading you will not only learn about the historical and philosophical ideas behind these great works, but also view them with a Christian perspective in mind.
Drama and Lyrics covers the tragedies and comedies of Ancient Greece. The works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes are studied, plus other minor poets. The history of drama and theater is discussed and, using photographs and Greek art, ancient theater comes alive.
In The Histories, you will learn specifically about Greek history. By reading Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, you will explore the different battles of Greek history. There are three major events: the Persian War, the Golden Age of Athens, and the Peloponnesian Wars. You will see the rise, glory, and fall of Athens and learn more about the government and culture of the Greek city-states. The three major battles, the Battle of Salamis, Marathon, and Thermopylae are discussed in detail.
Finally, the The Philosophers covers the important works of Aristotle and Plato including The Apology, Crito, and Metaphysics. Throughout the lectures students will see how the church has been influenced by these men, both historically and in modern times.
Each of the above units could be done independently, or combined to be done as a year-long course.
All of the lectures are given by Wes Callihan. Each unit opens with an introductory lecture that contains a course overview. The lectures are interesting and contain Ancient art and photos that hold the attention of the student. Wes Callihan has a vast knowledge of both Greek and Latin, and gives appropriate word roots and meanings that aid in understanding.
Between lectures are the student assignments; these are the actual readings of the "Great Books" themselves. And Roman Roads Media makes it very easy to find all of these primary sources; either to purchase or to read on a device. Most of these, are available free of charge on the internet.
After each lecture and reading assignment there are quizzes; these are multiple choice and range from six to fourteen questions. At the end of each unit is an exam and an essay that is due.
What You Get:
I received the entire course as online streaming. This version is $199.00, and is very user-friendly. There is a course path that guides you through the unit; showing you which steps you have completed and what you need to do next. This option also includes the pdf workbooks with the answer keys. The questions in the workbooks are the same as the ones in the quizzes and tests, the only difference being that the ones in the workbook are not multiple choice.
There is also a weekly schedule included with assignments given each day. Here is a sampling of the schedule:
Day 21: Watch Lecture 7 (Approx. 26 min); Lecture Questions
Day 22: Read The Odyssey, books 1 and 2
Day 23: Read The Odyssey, books 3 and 4
Day 24: Reading Questions
Day 25: Watch Lecture 7 (Approx. 24 min.); Lecture Questions
You or your student should plan to spend one to three hours a day in this course.You can see sample lessons and view portions of the lectures on the website.
Roman Roads Media also generously sent me one of the units in DVD format. I received The Histories DVD set, which had all 12 lectures in that unit on four DVD's. Inside the DVD was a booklet titled Guide to the Art. This resource profiled a painting that is shown in each lesson, and gives artist information and more background about the painting. Each unit is available individually on the website for $56.00 each and includes the Guide to the Art. You can also purchase a hard copy of the student workbook for $12.00.
How I Used This And What I Thought:
Well as I said above, in my homeschooling years, there was a limit to the subjects that were available. When I saw that this product was also recommended for adults, I decided that I would take the course and review it myself.
I decided to start with the first unit, The Epics. I found the lectures very interesting. Wes Callihan is a wonderful story teller, and as I listened to him tell the background story of the Iliad, I was fascinated. Now if any of you have tried to read The Iliad or The Odyssey you know that this can be a difficult piece to read; they were originally bards and so are in a poetic form. Wes Callihan had a wonderful idea and he suggested reading it aloud to retain more of the story. I am sure my children were amused as I sat and read it aloud to myself, but I must say that reading it that way made the story make more sense to me. I also took notes as I read, and took frequent breaks, as suggested by Wes Callihan.
Each reading assignment took a day or two to complete; if I was having my high school student do this, I would follow the suggested schedule of splitting the reading into two days. The lectures that followed the assignments were excellent; Wes Callihan in his passionate way, helped make sense of the complicated language of the poems and brought the story to life. Interspersed throughout the lectures were definitions appearing on the screen, plus appropriate period art. I also appreciated that many of the questions and portions of the lecture gave the line of the poem for reference. This made it easier to follow the lecture and answer any questions. I did find both the Odyssey and Iliad for free online, using Roman Roads Media's Resource Page.
I found as I continued through the unit, that I was gaining more of a sense of Greek life and history. After all, I was reading something that was most likely written during that period. And the knowledge that Mr. Callihan gives in the lectures was extremely helpful in fully understanding Homer's writings.
To get a grasp of the entire program I watched a lecture from each of the other units. I was especially fascinated by The Histories; the introductory lecture was captivating and gave an excellent overview of the three major Greek events. Greek history lasts only about a century, but it is filled with lessons that pertain to our world today.
So I plan on continuing this course; learning more about the history of our Ancient world can and should be a part of our education.
Roman Roads Media has so many other wonderful resources....there is an American History course, Visual Latin, The Grammar of Poetry, and a really neat looking book on Economics. Check out what my other Crewmates thought of Old Western Culture and these other products by clicking below.