A good U.S. government text not only describes the workings of the three branches, interprets the Constitution, and offers some analysis of the party system--it also imparts to students a sense of their obligation and duties as citizens. A Beka's American Government in Christian Perspective does all those things, preparing high school seniors to become active, responsible and informed voting subjects of the United States of America.
How Does This Work?
This is a one-semester senior high school course designed as a lead-in to A Beka's Economics program. The student text is really all you need, though the tests are useful for measuring comprehension and retention. The supplemental State and Local Government workbook is a study outline in which students record information about their own state, county and community, and is useful as an introduction to civics.
The teacher's guide is like all A Beka teacher resources--there is a modicum of background information, answers to all objective in-text exercise questions, and very imited lesson plans. In short, it's dispensable. Tests are mulitple choice, matching and short answer; answers to all test questions are provided in the test answer key.
Content in the student book is broken into three units: "Foundations of American Government," "Our Constitutional Republic," and "Our Federal Republic." The first two chapters essentially set up a right-wing conservative Christian philosophical foundation for the necessity of government in the form of an homage to American greatness.
Readers get the history of the United States governmental structure from the Puritans on (though Continental political theorists who influenced the Founders are ignored). They also learn how the government is organized, the difference between confederacy and federalism, the evils of Communism, the concept of checks and balances, etc.
Interspersed throughout the text are boxes with brief bios of important Americans and often-forgotten patriots. As with all A Beka history texts, these inset boxes dwell on the virtues of the "good guys" and neglect their vices (or the fact that, while some of them spoke often of 'God,' they weren't Christians by any normal definition).
One of the best elements of this course is the commentary of the Constitution found in the back of the student text. The complete body of the U.S. Constitution is presented with sidebar notation that explain each clause and amendment. Another strong feature are the extensive review questions at the end of each chapter that force students to think as well as to recall information.
Our Honest Opinion:
Students will get a reasonably solid understanding of the nature and processes of the American government reading this textbook. At the same time, they'll also get plenty of propaganda--America is touted as the greatest nation, not just of the present era, but of all time, and the authors explicitly state that this is due to Americans' righteousness of conduct and thought. That seems like a bit of a stretch.
We'd suggest, if you're going to have your kids read this, that you supplement reading assignments with thorough discussion afterword. If you want a similarly conservative Christian perspective without near as much blatant propaganda, we suggest you try the slightly less accessible but infinitely more thorough American Government from Bob Jones Press.
A Beka Support Materials:
A Beka does not sell their materials to retail bookstores, preferring instead to sell their products through representatives and through their website. As a result, we can offer only used A Beka, and can't guarantee we'll get it. We offer here the current retail price of the book for your information, but if our page does not say "Add Used to Cart," we do not have a copy.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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