Overview of the History
History tends to focus on names, dates, and events. But what's behind it all? Why do humans behave as we do? What beliefs drive our behaviors?
Every individual has an underlying worldview – the way each person makes sense of reality. Think of a worldview as the tinted glasses each person looks through to see the world.
When you study the beliefs that people hold, you gain insight into why people think and act as they do.
Sonlight's 500 World History and Worldview Studies offers an opportunity to discover, in historical context, the ideas that have shaped history, along with the consequences of these ideas and philosophies. My hope is that it will help students think deeply about issues of personal, social, and ethical significance.
The spine of the History program is the two-volume set Streams of Civilization. Volume 1 covers Ancient History through the early 16th Century. Volume 2 continues on, through the beginning of the 21st Century. Written by Christian authors, these books not only provide a beautiful historical overview of the rise and fall of civilizations, but also offer unique insights about science, music, art, architecture, and pop culture.
Four books lay the foundation for the Bible segment of the program. The Universe Next Door introduces teens to nine prominent worldviews, including deism, existentialism, naturalism and nihilism. Total Truth integrates the history of ideas with their relevance to Christianity. Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult gives your students a brilliant introduction to key topics, like reasoning, ultimate reality, and morality. And Good Ideas from Questionable Christians and Outright Pagans explains the ideas of history's principal philosophers: Aristotle, Augustine, Nietzsche, Marx and other well-known thinkers through the ages.
As you together talk through the beliefs that will guide your students throughout their lives, I hope they grow in maturity, so that they will be deeply rooted, prepared to make a positive difference for God's kingdom.
Estimated daily time for World History and Worldview Studie: Student: 1 hr.
Our high school programs are separated by subject to allow customers maximum flexibility. Feel free to buy either the History or the Literature, or both, or to mix-and-match with the History and Literature of other Sonlight programs.
Overview of the Literature
People have always told stories. And the best stories still resonate, even 4000 years later. The Ancients felt the same fears and loves that we do.
This course captures our shared humanity.
Sonlight's 500 Literature is mostly chronological, moving from the ancient poem The Epic of Gilgamesh, where Gilgamesh, after the death of his friend, seeks to avoid death, to the modern play Copenhagen, where Nobel-Prize winning scientists consider the atomic bomb, and how to create (or avoid?) this instrument of death.
There are several foundational texts of World Literature that come up regularly as shared cultural references: Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus. Even without reading these, you've probably heard about the Trojan War, or about Odysseus's trials as he tried to reach his wife Penelope, or about the mother-lust of Oedipus, made famous by Freud.
We have, then, a book about war, a book about a journey, and a book about self-knowledge. These themes come up again, with variation, through the rest of the program.
War and enmity go back to the first family, and this course includes Night, a memoir of a Jew in a concentration camp during WWII, and also The Aeneid, Virgil's epic poem on seeking a homeland and the war to conquer it.
"The Journey" is a common theme in literature. Go away to find yourself. (Think of Chicken Little.) This course has several books about the journey: The Epic of Gilgamesh, where the title character goes to find the Babylonian version of Noah to win eternal life; Candide, where the title character is a world-traveling innocent; and Don Quixote, where the title character attempts impossibilities.
And self-knowledge? Crime and Punishment's depressed Raskolnikov needs some resolution after his great sin; Dante's hero has lost his way and travels through hell as he seeks to find his way again; King Lear suffers much before he gains wisdom and understanding.
It's incredible to read books of power and beauty, and to see how different people, in different times, have wrestled with the big questions in life.
Besides covering 4000 years, this course is not confined to Europe only. We do have great works from authors in the European countries of Greece, Italy, England, France, Spain, Romania, and Russia.
But we also have great works from authors in the Asian countries of Iran, China, Japan, and India, as well as ancient Mesopotamia.
We have great works from authors in the African countries of Nigeria, Algeria, South Africa, and Kenya.
And we have great works from the South American countries of Colombia and Argentina.
To read that list excites me! So much richness!
And that's not counting the collection of poetry! Add to the above: New Zealand, Scotland, Germany, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Poland, Chile, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Wales, and St. Lucia. (With New Zealand and St. Lucia, we've covered all the inhabited continents.)
This is truly "World" Literature.
Besides books dealing with universal themes, and besides works from around the world, this course employs a wide range of literary styles. It includes drama, comedy, tragedy, graphic novel, novella, novel, short story, saga, epic poem, lyric poem, and memoir. Incredible!
The list is a "who's who" of best books of all time. And I could talk at length about the beauty of these books, because they are beautiful. I'd rather you read the books and experience their richness.
After finishing this program, students will not only have had a year of beautiful books and great thoughts, they will also be able to understand common cultural references: Oedipal complexes, quixotic endeavors, Panglossian optimism, and circles of hell, for example.
It's a great, great year.
Fully integrated with the Literature, Language Arts builds on past years and continues to develop literary analysis, creative writing, research and essay skills. The first semester follows a writing manual to help organize thoughts and improve writing craft. The second semester includes writing prompts for papers to put the instruction into practice.
Come spend a year with the best World Literature of all time.
Estimated daily time for World Literature: Student: 75 mins.
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