June 28, 2018

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {Curriculum Review}

The Master and His Apprentices: A Christian Perspective on Art History {review}
Art History. This is a subject that can be rather...well scandalous when it comes to the art included in most curriculum. My mother-in-law is an art history major and she HATED that aspect of it. I don't know about you, but as a mom, I'd really like something more, well GODLY when it comes to studying art throughout history for my children (and myself for that matter!). But does such a thing exist? Let me introduce you to The Master and His Apprentices, an alternative to the traditional approach for art history. I recently reviewed The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective and am happy to share this high school level curriculum with you today.

About The Master and His Apprentices

The Master and His Apprentices is a Christian perspective of art throughout the ages. Unlike 99% of the other art history material out there, this curriculum contains NO nudity or other objectionable material! Instead, it has just scholarly material in a reader-friendly format. Throughout the course, the
student is reminded over and over about how God is the Master Creator and Artist and while we may stand in awe of the creations of man, it was God who gifted men and women the artistic skills they have used to fashion so many amazing pieces of art over the centuries. The course is not intended to be a technical and comprehensive art history resource, but more an introduction to visual history. The course is designed to be worked through chronologically in order to see how cultures were built on the achievements of the previous cultures. There are places in the course where timelines are shared to show how the time periods and artistic works flow, and when possible, they are laid out beside Biblical/Christian history. The author intended this to be a way to more fully understand the context of the different events or creations in world history.

The book is available in physical or digital form. The course comes with a text and companion workbook. The course satisfies a full high school elective credit.

We reviewed the digital copies of the book and workbook (aka Teacher Guide). This digital form retails for $34.99 (textbook) and $19.99 (teacher guide). The layout of the digital copy is designed to be printing compatible so that it could be put into a 3-ring binder. It is a fixed-layout PDF, best viewed on a computer, but works well on a large tablet. Once downloaded, no other internet connection is needed.

I used mine via the documents app on my Kindle Fire and it worked perfectly. I also downloaded it to my laptop to print out some of the workbook pages to complete.

My Thoughts on the Product


Wow. My first thought is WOW! I LOVE that this is available as a digital download! It has been so convenient to have both the actual textbook AND the teacher's guide ready to go on my Kindle so that I can use it anywhere! The textbook is full color and with over 500 full color pictures (over 600 total pictures!) every page has something visual to enjoy. One immediate benefit of the digital copy is that I can increase the size of it for easy reading! I also don't have to lug around two separate books. When the physical copy of the text is 350 pages, you can see why this is a major plus.

The writing style of the author is very narrative. It doesn't read like a text full of fancy terminology. Because of the Christian perspective, it is no surprise that there are scriptures found throughout the chapters of the book. Chapter 2 is all about creation, and each of the creation day lessons begins with scripture. I love the bringing in of God and other biblical accounts in each section as they fit into the discussion. I wasn't expecting references to the skilled builders who were part of the building of Solomon's temple, but I love how the author points out how these men were so gifted they were known by name and God allowed their names to be permanently part of the Biblical record.

Chapter one was an excellent introduction of what to expect in this course and really helped me understand who this course is geared for, as well as what to expect. As I continued through it, I really didn't expect it to be so richly filled with ancient world history! In fact, in some places I felt like I was reading a history lesson, not an art history lesson! That's not a complaint though! I ADORE history and ate up all the information that the author provided.

There are timelines included throughout the course to help the students get ideas on how everything fits together. I would absolutely print these out if I had a student doing the course.

Now as to how this is to be used. The course is designed to do one lesson per week. Based on the length of the readings for each chapter, I think this is a great pace. There were some chapters that were so rich in information, I had to space my work on it over a couple days during the week. Some of the chapters are actually scheduled to be multiple lessons because SOOO much is included.

The Teacher Guide was very useful in helping me understand how to use this course. The contents of the Teacher Guide include: Instructions for Teachers in Classroom Settings, Instructions for Parents Using this Material in the Home, Record Keeping: Attendance and Grade Sheet, Syllabus, Terms to Describe Art, Art History Paper Instructions, Weekly Discussion Question Worksheets, and Exams, and Answer Key to Discussion Questions & Exams. Basically everything you need to know to teach or guide your student through this course is in this. Some of the things that stuck out to me included that the author encourages the parents to use the discussion questions how their child would respond best--saying that it could be done orally OR written out. Another aspect was that the author doesn't require memorization of any specific dates for exams, but instead guides the students to learn time periods and styles. This is a MAJOR plus for a course like this. Included in this course are also four papers which are to be written on a different artist/piece/style from four different time periods, but the guide states that as long as the subject matter falls within the proper period, the student can pick whatever content they desire.

In regards to earning an elective credit, the author states that based on the reading, notetaking, discussion questions, writing papers, and studying for exams--the student will spend 3-4 hours/week on average. As a 36 week course, this amounts to over the recommended hours for awarding a full 1 credit elective course. The author does add that if the parent doesn't feel the child has spent enough time on it, there are places where she notes additional time may be spent on papers or presentations.

I printed the questions to complete
I wasn't able to review the entire course obviously, but I was able to go through the first four chapters of the program spread out over the last several weeks. The first four chapters include the following topics:

*Chapter 1: Introduction to Art

*Chapter 2: Creation
(analyzing each of the six creation days in depth)

*Chapter 3: Ancient Near East
(Noah's Ark, Ziggurats/Tower of Babel, Sargon & Naram-Sin, Cone Mosaics, Votive Figures, Cylinder Seals, Gudea Statues, Law Code of Hammurabi, The Tabernacle, Solomon's Temple, Lamassus/Assyrian Reliefs, Ishtar Gate, and Palace at Persepolis)

*Chapter 4: Egyptian
(Mummification/Canopic Jars, Palette of Narmer, Statuary of the Old Kingdom, Pyramid Development, Pylon Temples, Queen Hatshepsut, Akhenaten & Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, and Temple of Ramses II)

Within each of the chapters, the topics being discussed have a notation about what type of art they are (like architecture or sculpture) and the relative time they were created. As I said earlier these chapters are rich in history about the culture, the land, the peoples, and how they were important or the contributions they made to art. I also LOVE (as I said earlier) the continuous return and focus to God.

For instance on page 34 in chapter 3 it reads
"While many historians point to these patterns and say the designers were inspired by weavers and basket makers, one could also make the argument that they were inspired first by God...in building with cone mosaics, the craftsmen were emulating God's character and creativity in make a needed substance (in this case shelter) that was also pleasant to the eye." (Cone Mosaics, pg 34)
This is what is desperately needed in so many of the art history programs. A reminder that all things stem from our LORD--yes even our need to create or be drawn to beautiful things. And this is probably my most FAVORITE aspect about this program.

A page from a set of discussion questions
In regards to the discussion questions, some of them require the student to simply rehash what they read with short answers or identification activities, but some of them are more unique questions allowing the student to use critical thinking or simply express their thoughts on a topic.

For instance, on the chapter 1 discussion questions the student is asked definitions of vocabulary from the reading, but then are asked things like "Prior to today, when you thought of God, did you ever think Him as an artist? What about now?" The student is frequently asked to share their thoughts after reading the chapters. They may be asked to think about what they read about a certain region of the world and compare it to their own location. One of my favorite questions was "Describe a moment when something in creation left you speechless." 

Most of the discussion questions are two pages long. Chapters 3 and 4 were broken up into two weeks worth of reading and lessons because they had soooo much information to cover. If I had a student working through this course, I would have them set up a binder to keep all their discussion questions and papers in. The timelines from the textbook would also be a great addition.
Example of Exam #1

There are exams included with this course, and the teacher's guide has them in with the discussion questions when they would be given. The first art exam occurs after chapter 5, which would be at about week 8. It is a mix of matching, definitions, multiple choice, listing, and short essay questions.

The four papers that are to be written to go with this course are scheduled to be turned in at weeks 8, 17, 25, and 35. These coincide with the art history exams, thus your student would need to be working on their papers throughout the weeks, unless you decided to set aside separate time for them. There is a page with all the guidelines about the papers included in the teacher guide.

Okay, so let's summarize. 
This is an amazing art history course! I WISH that I had been able to take a course like this when I was in high school. Honestly, I think there is enough to even be considered a college level course. It is in depth with ancient world history with over 600 photos and illustrations! In all honestly, I think this course would EASILY count as just a full credit for an ancient world history course. I don't know that any regular curriculum for ancient world history could give more than this course does! It would be so easy to add in things like literature or music which fall in the timelines this course presents. I will definitely be considering this course AS an ancient world history course for my son when he hits the high school range.

The course is definitely user friendly. Everything you need to teach or guide your child through the course is included in the Teacher Guide. It is also open and go, something else that is hard to find in this subject matter. This is definitely something you could teach multiple students in different grades with--even if you had some of them in middle school grades. The information or projects would be easily adaptable.

Cons?
Heavy reading. If you have a student who doesn't do well with heavy reading, this isn't going to be a good match, unless you had a way to read it to them. On the flip side, if you have a student who LOVES to read, this would be a perfect match.

Less art and more history. While it is an art history course, MOST of the information is about the history and culture that the object came out of, rather than the creation or information about the objects themselves. So if you are wanting to learn more about the details of the art pieces included--you may have to look into it on your own. But as someone who is more history than art--this isn't a big con to me. LOL.

If you are not interested in a Christian based program, then obviously you would want to avoid this, because God and the Bible are entrenched in this curriculum. Because of the focus on ancient world history, I would consider the material to be non-denominational based on what I have read thus far.

In the end--this is a MUST for art students! This is a big YES for history lovers! This is a big ABSOLUTELY YES for those of us wanting our children to be able to avoid the objectionable material found in soooo much art history today. I give this course two HUGE thumbs up!

Want to Know More About The Master and His Apprentices?

For the last several weeks I have been working through The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective from The Master and His Apprentices. You have heard what I thought about it, but what about the crew members with high school students? Did their students enjoy it? Make sure you visit their reviews to find out!
The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}
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I am honestly tickled to death to have discovered this product. Even if I don't use it in our own homeschool, I have so many friends with students interested in art or desiring to further their art education that would find this a perfect fit! One of the main things holding them back was the objectionable material in so many art history courses---I am so happy that now there is The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective to share with them!

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