R.C. Sproul Jr.’s engaging speaking style combines with first-class graphic design and lots of film clips from old movies, newsreels, and historical films for this worldview-based economics course. Film footage is an interesting assortment of public domain content, such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton movies and other silent films, plus newsreels from WWII. It's often quite entertaining. On the other hand, there is also some footage of holocaust survivors at the end of the war, starving people, and other troubling images that highlight the reality of economic systems and choices and their links to worldviews. Parents should preview the film footage, but I didn’t see anything that I thought inappropriate for Christian high school students.
Sproul advocates a free-market economic and political philosophy based on biblical principles (Reformed Protestant), and he demonstrates how atheism tends to lead to government-controlled, socialized economic systems. Sproul takes the time to make the distinction between communist socialism and fascist/nationalist socialism and shows how these and other forms of socialism allow just a few people to control the entire economic system of a country. He brackets free market and socialist systems around interventionist economics systems such as we have in the U.S., discussing the danger involved as we move toward an increasingly socialistic system.
This course might be considered a philosophy of economics course more than a typical high school economics course. It doesn’t deal with budgeting and banking other than as they play a role in economics systems. Instead, it deals with topics such as those mentioned above plus the biblical origins of economics, sin’s effect upon economics, scarcity, private ownership of property, tools, markets and trade, capital, profit, inflation, depression, redistribution of wealth, and the biblical concept of dominion.
The course is presented in twelve video segments on two DVDs. Segments vary in length from 15 to 27 minutes. The course includes a 236-page study guide. Study guide pages are only 4.75” x 7.5” so the amount of content is not really as large as you would suppose for this size book. For each chapter, the study guide provides an introduction, Scripture readings (generally one or more complete chapters rather than isolated verses), a list of objectives, a very detailed lecture outline that is sometimes expanded with extra information not presented in the DVDs, and questions. Students should first watch the DVD then read through the study guide and respond to the questions. Questions for each chapter generally include five multiple-choice questions, three or four “short answer” questions that might require a paragraph-length response, and three or four discussion questions that could also occasionally be used for essay assignments. There is a downloadable answer key for the study guide available on the publisher's website.
Each chapter of the study guide also lists optional reading assignments in three recommended textbooks. While the course has substantial content, students seeking course credit do need to use an additional text to cover what they should learn for high school economics. Those three recommended texts are Foundations of Economics (Ritenour), Basic Economics third edition (Carson and Cleveland), and Prosperity and Poverty (Beisner). If you want to create a complete course for credit, Basic Economics is the recommended text for high school students, although older students might opt to use the more challenging Foundations of Economics text that is geared toward college students and adults. Prosperity and Poverty expands on economics from a worldview perspective following the same line of thought as does Sproul; while teens can and should read this book, it repeats some of what Sproul presents and does not broaden coverage enough for course credit.
You can purchase the course in your choice of three formats: print study guide with DVDs, digital downloads for both videos and study guide, or online portal subscription (12-month access) for both videos and study guide. I particularly like the packaging of the “print” edition. The thin case with the two DVDs and the study guide come packaged together in an attractive cardboard sleeve case. The printed study guide has a lay-flat, wire comb binding that makes it very easy to handle.
I like the content and presentation of the course, and I think it works particularly well for worldview education since it covers some key worldview concepts. Unlike other economics courses, Sproul concludes with a call to action for Christians to understand and resist the temptation to urge government intervention that leads toward socialism because we like a particular goal or program. He encourages political action, especially at the local level so that Christians can influence government from scriptural principles based on both a limited-government view and care and concern for the needy.
You can view a free sample of both the video and the study guide on the publisher's website.