My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others . . . In reading great literature, I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. ~C. S. Lewis
As I enter my 15th year of homeschooling having graduated two with two to go, I realize I was a bit late coming to the classical education model. If only I could do some things differently, we definitely would have tried the classical approach much earlier. I want my children to "see with a myriad of eyes" like C.S. Lewis as they read great literature. I am happy to have found Roman Roads Media and appreciate their classical curriculum published from a Christian perspective. Created especially for homeschoolers, Roman Roads Media pairs master-teachers and top-notch technology to create affordable options for study in the home.
And where better to begin classical study but at the beginning? We've been reviewing Wes Callihan's Old Western Culture: The Greeks this summer and plan to use it as the spine for our entire school year for literature, history, philosophy, and art. (The Greeks is Year One of a planned four-year curriculum series and is ideal for students in 8th - 12th grades. Years Two, Three, and Four are The Romans, Christendom, and Early Moderns.) I highly recommend you stay within this high school age range as mature themes such as paganism and sexual immorality are presented. Roman Roads Media further cautions that families should take into consideration the maturity level of their children and that the series might be best for students ages 14 and up. My 13-year-old 8th grader has had no problems so far.
Old Western Culture: The Greeks is divided into four units of study. They are The Epics, Drama and Lyric, The Histories, and The Philosophers. Each unit can be used as a stand alone curriculum but all fit together for a complete year of high school literature and social studies. Each unit is designed to be completed within a 9-week time frame working 5 days a week. This is easily do-able as each unit is divided into twelve 30-minute video lessons with accompanying readings. (That's a total of 48 video segments and over 20 hours of master instruction. There's absolutely no one way I could personally cover this material in depth on my own. Old Western Culture makes it easy.) You may choose to start at the beginning of the series with The Epics or jump into an area of study that complements others you have studied. For purposes of this review period, I chose to begin with The Philosophers as we had been already been introduced to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle in our Spring semester coursework. This made for an easy transition for us. We will be completing the entire program this school year, starting with The Epics next week as we return to our regular schedule following a quite hectic summer.
There are a variety of payment options to best suit the individual needs of your family. The base cost of $224 for the entire series covers all four units and includes the full curriculum, 4 DVD sets (containing 4 DVDs each for a total of 16), a Guide to the Arts for each unit, PDF workbooks for each unit, Answer Keys and Exams. If you prefer online streaming videos to the DVDs, you can purchase the series for $199. This is truly ALL YOU NEED for a complete year of study. You can purchase copies of the literary works you will be reading and studying or borrow them from your local library if you choose to have a hard copy in hand as recommended. Digital copies are provided with the full curriculum, though, so this is not necessary. Also, if you prefer printed workbooks to the digital copies included, they are available for an additional cost of $48. I reviewed both printed and digital workbooks and found both to be easy-to-use.
For us, Old Western Culture: The Greeks works best as a joint effort. This is a GREAT BOOKS curriculum which means it is based entirely on reading and discussing great books in literary history and not just reading about them. I have watched the videos and studied alongside my 8th and 10th graders. It has been more years than I care to share since I actually read The Iliad and The Odyssey or even thought about Herodotus or Xenophon, so this is a great refresher for me. It is important to me that we watch and discuss together. I am taking intentional steps to offer ample opportunity for the Eagle Scout and the Princess to form opinions and bounce ideas off of each other intelligently. I want more for them than I gave their sisters and we are being challenged by our study of The Greeks.
So how does it actually work and what do my children think? I'm so glad you asked. Following the suggested schedule, we began with Lecture 1 of The Philosophers. An overview of Greek philosophy, it served as a welcome review for us. From there, we began the required reading -- Plato's Apology and worked through each day's review questions. Following each 30-minute lecture, there are 10 - 16 questions to be answered and discussed. I chose to use this as an open discussion time together, but will have my children begin a notebook for answering questions for the rest of the Units.
It takes us about an hour each day to work through required lecture or reading assignments in The Greeks as oral discussion. I anticipate it taking a bit longer when I have the kids writing down assignments. Lectures are followed by reading assignments, assignments are followed by comprehension questions. Students are also assigned to write a term paper with each Unit and finish the Unit with an exam.
Each Unit begins with an overview lecture. Students are challenged as they read through some amazing literature. In The Epics, they begin with an overview of Old Western Culture and then read The Iliad and The Odyssey and end with a discussion of Homer's legacy in Western Civilization. In Drama and Lyric, they discuss the development of theater and study a selection of tragedies, comedies, and minor poems including Oedipus the King and Fall of Troy. In The Histories, students study Herodotus' battles and the Great Plague and end with the lessons learned in Greek history. In The Philosophers, we have studied the writings of both Plato and Aristotle and discussions have included The Republic and The Metaphysics. Like I said, this is some amazing literature. Most of these were not even introduced to me until my college world history and philosophy classes and I'm thrilled that my children have the opportunity to begin learning about them now.
As a homeschool mom just venturing into classical education, I can tell you that Old Western Culture: The Greeks is super-easy to use. With schedules carefully laid out for you, you can easily plug and play. There is no advance work needed for us to sit down each day and begin our study together. I like that all preparation is done for me and I need simply to enjoy listening to my children as they begin to think and talk and discuss ideology together.
My 10th grader is excited about continuing with The Greeks. He finds Mr. Callihan to be interesting and intriguing. He says that it is "definitely not boring and he can't wait to hear what comes next." He is most excited to start The Histories as he anticipates some "pretty gory battle scenes" and expects "the Plague to be filled with drama." I don't know about you, but that's a pretty high praise in my book. My 8th grader is excited to begin the Drama and Lyric unit as she looks forward to studying the comedies "that teach us how to laugh." We can definitely use more laughter in our life.
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