Christian Liberty has updated and rewritten a two-volume history text through a number of printings, although much of the information in both volumes remains faithful to the original books written many years ago. This is a Christian series that emphasizes the importance of religious and philosophical views throughout history.
Both volumes were written by different authors, and Volume One is easier reading than Volume Two. Student textbooks for both volumes are sturdy, hardcover books. The recently revised third edition of Volume One now has full-color illustrations while Volume Two has two-color illustrations. The larger, more-colorful illustrations are a significant improvement.
For each course there are a student textbook, a teacher’s manual, and a test packet. The optional Streams of Civilization Timeline is one packet of timeline charts covering both volumes. Printed on heavy-duty paper, the timelines are illustrated with key figures and events under the typical categories plus church history and intellectual history.
authors: Albert Hyma and May Stanton
Volume One covers creation through the Reformation. Volume One can be used at either junior or senior high level, since the reading level is not that difficult. However, I expect that most homeschoolers will use it as a high school level text followed by Volume Two.
The text now looks much like other history texts while prior editions looked quite dated in contrast. The layout is improved, clearly differentiating sidebars from the main text. Comprehension questions, project ideas, and a list of vocabulary words and concepts to learn are at the end of each chapter. The extensive, detailed index at the back of the book is another helpful improvement.
Streams of Civilization, Volume One offers more comprehensive coverage of ancient history than do many other world history texts, emphasizing a young-earth, creationist understanding of pre-history. While the text itself could be used by students in either junior or senior high, comprehension questions are certainly challenging enough for senior high level. Many questions require students to go far beyond a simple comprehension level. For example, on page 155 one question asks students to: “Compare and contrast Athenian democracy with modern American democracy.” This requires students to synthesize what they have learned about American government with what they are learning about the government of Athens in ancient Greece. Another question on the same page asks students to analyze and extrapolate from what they have learned to answer the question: “How might world history have been different had the Battle of Marathon ended in a Persian victory?”
Suggested projects at the end of each chapter often differ little from comprehension questions, although they will usually be more time consuming. Consider one suggested project on page 175: “Compare the differences between a democracy and a republic. Which form of government do we have in the United States? Which form do you feel is better? Why?” However, some project ideas offer opportunities to differentiate learning activities to suit different learning styles. On page 175, another suggestion is for students to “Draw a picture or make a model of the Roman Forum or the Senate.” Even so, most projects require research and writing and are best suited for the analytical student who likes to read and research. Projects are optional, but if parents or teachers choose to use them, they should probably select only one project for a student to complete for each chapter. Of course, if you want to make the course more challenging, you could assign additional projects.
The teacher's manual for Volume One offers complete lesson plans with overviews, objectives, teaching strategies, project ideas, vocabulary words and their definitions, answer keys, and assessment and evaluation suggestions. The new teacher’s manual is almost double the size of the previous edition. Two very significant improvements contribute to the expansion. The teacher’s manual now includes answers to the comprehension questions posed at the end of each chapter. It also has repeats the list of vocabulary words found in the student text, but the teacher’s manual includes definitions for those terms and the page number in the student text where the word is either used or defined. While the vocabulary words are in bold print in the text, they are not always clearly defined. The teacher’s manual suggests having students use a dictionary or other reference tools to look up the meaning of words that are not clearly defined. Having answers to the comprehension questions as well as definitions written out in the teacher’s manual should save parents and teachers lots of time when it comes to assessing student work.
Original authors: Robert G. Clouse and Richard V. Pierard; revised and updated by Garry J. Moes
Volume Two, subtitled Cultures in Conflict Since the Reformation Until the Third Millennium After Christ, covers modern history—the 16th century through about 2010, not including President Obama's administration. Although it is a world history text, it treats many issues primarily from a "western" viewpoint.
As I already mentioned, this book is more challenging than Volume One. Church history, philosophy, and theology are integrated into historical coverage more than we find in most history texts from Christian publishers. This makes it a good choice for those who want to emphasize a biblical Christian worldview in their coursework. However, Streams of Civilization, Volume Two is written from the Reformed Protestant theological perspective as well as a conservative political position, and it offers strong opinions based upon the presuppositional ideas inherent to both. This might limit its potential audience to some extent.
A visual timeline begins each chapter, and black-and-white or black-white-and-brown illustrations appear throughout the book. At the end of each chapter are a set of questions, a list of suggested projects, and two lists of words. One list includes vocabulary and concept terms while the other list contains the proper names of people and groups (e.g., John F. Kennedy and European Parliament).
Most of the questions are thought-provoking and worthwhile. For example, these are two of the questions on page 151:
Discuss Aristotelian, inductive, and deductive reasoning. Describe the differences in these approaches to science.
Why does the text use the word totalitarian to describe the grip of science on the modern minds (sic)? Support your answer.
As with Volume One, some questions ask students to present their own opinions or predictions rather than a predetermined answer.
Since this text was originally written during the Cold War, there are occasional references that are likely to be unknown to today’s students. For example, in the questions on page 313, I spotted a few like the phrase “Better Red than dead” and the controversial idea of peaceful coexistence between communism and democracy.
Some questions clearly have been derived from conservative political positions of that era, yet the issues remain with us today. In the intervening decades, the U.S. has moved toward greatly expanded provision of services by government as well as higher taxation. The text asks on page 313, “Consider the growth of the welfare state following World War II. What services, if any, should a government provide for its people?” The growth of the welfare state over that long period of time would be challenging to document since it is so large and extensive. Also, I suspect that many students as well as their parents will balk at the idea of questioning whether or not the government should be providing any services at all! Nevertheless, questions such as this are important to ask.
Some viewpoints in the text might be quite controversial. For example, a question on page 351 asks, “What causes poverty?” On the preceding page, the clearest answer to this question within the text would likely be drawn from a quote from David Chilton that begins,
The central fact about the heathen is that they are living in willful rebellion against the one true God, and are therefore under God’s curse. The economic issue is a symptom of their condition; but the problem with pagans is primarily religious and ethical. To neglect this central point in order to focus only on their poverty is radically unbiblical and immoral.
Introducing a controversial view such as this requires additional explanation and presentation of other views that is missing in this chapter. While many issues such as this that are addressed in the latter part of this text are important, it would be very helpful to have a thoroughly updated treatment in the next edition of this book.
The teacher’s manual for Volume Two has only suggested answers for the end-of-chapter questions. After seeing the revised teacher’s manual for Volume One, I very much wish that the teacher’s manual for Volume Two was as extensive.