Unlike other Christian history programs, Bob Jones History doesn't trip over itself interpreting and passing judgment on every historical event and figure. Instead, it presents a fairly balanced picture that avoids revisionism and subjective attitudes. There is perhaps an overemphasis on United States history (9 out of 13 texts deal with American history, economics and government), though the world history texts are thorough and intriguing.
While there is still a lot to this program (as with all BJU curricula), Bob Jones history is less threatening than other subjects. The core materials are manageable, and there's plenty of teacher support, making the information easy to present. Teachers will still have to put in plenty of work, but everything you need to teach is in the teacher's guides.
How Do These Work?
Grades 1-4 cover American history and basic social studies (mostly civic and community based ideas) from the discovery of the New World to the present. The approach is chronological, each text building on the one before it, making it difficult to transfer to or away from the course in the early grades. (Earlier editions had grades 1-5 covering the same period.) Update (April 2022): These have all now been revised, and their subjects have changed. Grade 1 covers Family & Community, Grade 2 Community & Government, and Grade 3 teaches about World Regions. Grade 4 now offers a very brief survey of American History and delves into the geographical regions of the U.S.
Grade 5 (4th edition) repeats U.S. history again, this time covering in one year the entire span from early America through 2015. The last chapter briefly discusses several current events topics. These include the increasing secularization of America, increased use (and dangers) of technology, the rise of ISIS, issues with Iran and Syria, and the Russian/Ukrainian conflict. It also touches on moral issues, such as climate change, gay rights and abortion. While the text raises questions and concerns about where these discussions are heading, it refrains from making any sweeping statements.
The 6th-7th grade texts cover world history, the 8th deals with American history. Ninth grade is Cultural Geography, 10th-11th are back to world and American, and twelfth grade is split between Economics and American Government. The books are colorful and engaging, the text well-written; not as dry as the average textbook, though not as creative as a plain narrative history. The pace is pretty quick without sacrificing information, especially in the later books which are much more detailed.
Each student text is accompanied by a one- or two-volume teacher's manual, a student activity manual with teacher's edition, and tests with answer key. Everything is non-consumable except the student activity manuals and the tests, and since the student and teacher books are sturdy, they should last for more than one student. The teacher's guides reference the activities and tests to their respective student text pages, so you don't have to struggle to figure out which activity goes with which lesson. There are also plenty of teacher notes and extra historical information in the teacher's guides.
The early books present the bare bones of history to acquaint kids with history's flow and study. As the course progresses the authors begin to layer in a more nuanced approach, adding details and making connections lacking in the earlier books. This makes BJU's history a good course for all grades, but not as good if you're planning to switch to something else at some point.
Bob Jones definitely takes a Christian approach. However, when presenting events they simply tell what happened instead of trying to force everything into a neat package. Also, they don't try to defend everyone's Christianity, and appear comfortable presenting the good and the bad. This isn't a perfect history course by any means, but it is one of the better textbook series we've seen.
Our Honest Opinion:
Like any other Bob Jones curriculum, their history must be taught by a teacher. Unlike other teacher-guided courses, however, this one requires no outside work. Everything you need is in the student and teacher materials, and you don't need to do extra research. (A lot of curricula claim as much; Bob Jones is one of the few to consistently live up to the claim.)
This course will give your kids a solid knowledge of history. It may not give them as much of an understanding, since it doesn't cover ideas or movements in as much detail as it might, but they will be familiar with the general flow of events. If you don't mind taking the time to teach, this is one of the better choices for history curricula; even if you do mind taking the time, it may still be worth it if you want your kids to have a thorough grounding in matters historical.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes 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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