Monday, August 04, 2014

Economics for Everybody {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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Economics. Doesn't exactly create sparks of enthusiasm for most teens. It sure didn't for me when I was in high school. I don't remember much about the class except that it was pure drudgery. Bleh.

Economics is one of those courses you're supposed to take to get the credit you need for your high school transcript. Right? Right. So, when I saw that Roman Roads Media was giving members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew an opportunity to review Economics for Everybody Curriculum, I jumped at the chance. Not because I was excited about economics but because I figured my 10th grader could go ahead and get the class out of the way. Well, I admit, the fact that R.C. Sproul, Jr. is the instructor piqued my curiosity a teeny, tiny bit.

But, wait.

Before I move further into the review, I need to tell you something, especially if you're one of those people who is plagued by tears of boredom even upon hearing the word economics. As I was researching this product in order to assess my level of interest, invisible sparks of enthusiasm were going off in all directions like little fireworks. I can honestly say that after reading about it and watching a few videos, my mindset changed from let's get this class out of the way to I can't wait to watch the lessons with my son!

Details At a Glance

Curriculum: Includes two DVDs and one 236 page study guide with discussion questions.

Producer: Compass Cinema

Instructor: Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr., professor at Ligonier Academy and founder of Highlands Ministries.

Lessons: 12 videos in all, ranging from 15-27 minutes in length.
  1. And God Created Economics (Stewardship in God's Image)
  2. The Economic Problem of Sin (Law, Liberty, and Government)
  3. The Path from Work to Wealth (Production, Property, and Tools)
  4. The Route from Scarcity to Plenty (Money, Markets, and Trade)
  5. The Role of the Entrepreneur (Capital, Calculation, and Profit)
  6. A Tale of Two Theologies, Part 1 (From God to Politics)
  7. A Tale of Two Theologies, Part 2 (Economic Philosophies and Systems)
  8. Government Intervention (Basic Principles and Education)
  9. The Two Mysteries of Monetary Policy (Inflation and Depression)
  10. The Welfare and Corporate States of America (Costs of Redistribution)
  11. Economics Has Consequences (The Real Effects of Sin)
  12. Kingdom Economics
Age Range: Everybody, as the title says, however, it was created with a few audiences in mind - families with middle school and high school students, churches and small groups who want to study economics, and adults who want to better understand the subject. Younger children can watch with families, too, but lessons 2, 7, and 11 have scenes that might bother them. (So far, I've seen scenes depicting starvation and things like that.)

High School Credit: This course is good for a 1/2 credit in economics. It can be used 2 ways for high school students:
  • Lighter course for 9th and 10th graders - use curriculum by itself as an introduction to the basic concepts of economics.
  • In-depth study for 10th-12th graders with worldview training - use curriculum with another economics textbook (Basic Economics, Third Edition by Carson and Cleveland is recommended).
Cost: $45.00

Video Lessons

In this curriculum, you will learn what economics is, how it plays out in everyday life, and what happens when God's economic principles aren't followed.

Economics for Everybody Curriculum is taught by Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr. in an informative yet entertaining manner. He brings the often boring subject to life through cartoons, movie & TV clips (think Charlie Chaplin and the 1950s), other types of graphic illustrations, footage from actual events, and even scenes of his own family. Subtitles help keep students focused on main points and important information.

Each lesson builds upon the one before it, and all lessons in the curriculum are presented in a particular order. The website explains it best, so I am going to quote it here: "Lessons 1 to 5 introduce key economic principles; Lessons 6 and 7 explain the relationships between theology, philosophy, and economics; Lessons 9 to 12 examine the application of economics in real-life systems."

One of my favorite things about this video series is that economics is taught from a biblical perspective focusing on the aspect that everything is God's and we're to be good stewards of His creation. This is the concept that really got me excited about wanting to go back and relearn economics. I wouldn't want my kids to learn about this subject any other way!

The video lessons are high quality and extremely easy to follow. Listening to the instructor is a pleasant experience. Watch the trailer below so you can get a better idea of what the lessons will look and sound like. You can also watch the entire first lesson (only 15 minutes) on the website under the tab, List of Lessons. Watching these videos hooked me on this economics curriculum for sure!

Study Guide

The study guide, which looks like a 5x7 paperback book, is designed to be used along with the video lessons. It reflects the concepts taught in the series and is a helpful tool for remembering and processing all the information presented in the videos. There isn't much room for writing in the book itself, so you'll need to use separate paper to answer the questions.

The study guide follows a clear, easy-to-use format. Each chapter includes:
  • Message Introduction - briefly explains what will be taught.
  • Scripture Reading - suggests chapters from the Bible that the student should read before the lesson.
  • Learning Objectives - lists 3 goals of each chapter: what the student should see, understand, and recognize.
  • Quotations - each chapter cites a quote pertaining to economics.
  • Lecture Outline - this is the meat of each chapter, and it closely follows the instruction presented in the video lessons.
  • Multiple Choice - there are 5 of these questions.
  • Short Answer - looks like most chapters have 3 or 4 of these questions.
  • Discussion - also looks like most chapters have 3 or 4 of these questions.
  • Resources for Further Study - includes a list at the beginning of the study guide and also refers to other books and their specific chapters at the end of each lesson.
The answers to the multiple choice questions are at the bottom of the last page in each chapter, and the answers to all other questions can be found in the Scope and Sequence/Study Guide Answer Key which can be downloaded from the website.

How We Are Using Economics for Everybody

We started out by watching the lessons as a family, in fact, even my husband watched the first lesson with us. I called out the multiple choice questions at the end of the lessons and had my 10th grader answer the rest of the questions on paper.

Since lesson 3, it's just been myself and my oldest watching. I've decided that when official school starts on Monday, August 4, my oldest will continue the course by himself. (I'm still going to watch with him, though.) I'd rather wait and have my other two children take the course in high school to get the credit for it. I think my 12-year-old could definitely handle the course, but I personally feel that my 9-year-old is too young to stay interested.

Final Thoughts

I give Economics for Everybody an A+! Even though I can't honestly say that the subject itself is thrilling, the curriculum is top notch. It's easy to understand, instructions are clear, and it's as entertaining as economics can be. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to review this product!

To see what other Crew Members thought about Economics for Everybody and several other products from Roman Roads Media (Old Western Culture: The Romans - The Aeneid, The Grammar of Poetry, Dave Raymond's American History 1 or 2, and Visual Latin I and II), click the banner below!

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