Exploring Government

Exploring Government

Ray Notgrass created this one-semester, high school level government course with a narrow audience in mind--Christians (Protestant), either homeschooling or private schooling, who prefer a conservative, limited-government perspective.

The course design works best for students studying and working independently, although I think it would also work well for a group class that meets weekly to discuss the reading and writing assignments.

There are two essential course components: the 387-page Exploring Government textbook and We Hold These Truths, a book that is a collection of writings by various authors that includes historic source documents, essays, and speeches related to U.S. government. Some are recent commentaries and articles regarding hot topics such as immigration, U.S. participation in the United Nations, and the flat tax. Both books are hardcover with full-color photos, drawings, and maps, and the textbook has an index.

The writing style of the text and some of the articles is more interesting than most government texts since it includes a significant amount of personal commentary and opinion. For example, Lesson 44 on Amendments 2 through 10 opens with the quote, "If they outlaw guns only the outlaws will have guns." Obviously, this follows with a defense of the right to "bear arms." Although Notgrass challenges bloated government programs and spending as well as other government-related issues, he sometimes explains how things arrived at their present state of affairs or justification from other perspectives. His discussion of the handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is a good example of this.

The first unit, titled "The Biblical Basis of Government," sets the tone for a biblical Christian viewpoint evident throughout the course.

An optional third component is the Quiz and Exam Pack that has review questions for each lesson, weekly quizzes, three exams, and an answer key. Questions are multiple choice or brief answers. While there is a weekly writing assignment (often a 2-3 page essay) within the textbook, there are no other feedback or assessment elements in the textbook. Consequently, I think most parents/teachers will want the Quiz and Exam Pack for accountability since students will likely be doing most of their work independently.

The 75 lessons in the text (one lesson per day) are presented in units of 5 lessons each. Each unit begins with a single page introduction. This introduction includes a very brief overview of the week's lessons. An "Activity Idea" follows--usually a writing assignment of 2-3 pages. While these might be considered optional, the assignments challenge students to think through concepts presented in each week's lessons and formulate their own opinions. I highly recommend requiring students to complete these Activity Ideas. The last item in the unit introduction is instructions for use of the Quiz and Exam Book. Reading assignments in We Hold These Truths are given at either the beginning or end of each lesson in the textbook. (Readings from the text of the U.S. Constitution are generally read before reading the textbook lesson, while other readings generally follow the textbook lesson.)

Daily lessons should take about one hour, but some students might require more time, especially for the Activity Idea written assignments. (You might use these essay assignments as part of your composition instruction for English credit.)

Pricing Information

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List prices: curriculum package - $49.95, optional quiz and exam packet - $7.95
Buy from Notgrass Company using my affiliate link by clicking here. (Using affiliate links helps support this website.)

Exploring Government Curriculum Package

Exploring Government Curriculum Package

    We Hold These Truths Historic Documents, Essays, and Speeches in American Government

    We Hold These Truths Historic Documents, Essays, and Speeches in American Government
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    Instant Key

    • Need For Parent/Teacher Instruction: minimal
    • Grade Level: grades 9-12
    • Suitable For: independent study
    • Religious Perspective: Protestant

    Publisher's Info

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