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High School History 3-Year Curriculum Series Review by Diane Knecht

American History: Observations & Assessments from Early Settlement to Today
British History: Observations & Assessments from Early Cultures to Today
World History: Observations & Assessments from Creation to Today
James P. Stobaugh
For Such a Time As This
New Leaf Publishing Group

High School History 3-Year Curriculum Series by James P. Stobaugh is not your run of the mill history program. One of the most intriguing components to this program is that it requires the student to think. The first page of all three student editions plainly state that the assignments require the students to think outside of the box to answer open ended questions as well as questions that come directly from the text. Three books in the series, including three teacher editions, means there is quite a bit of material to cover over the three years. Each student edition retails for $24.99 with the teacher editions retailing for $14.99. The entire series with teacher editions can be purchased for $79.99. This is a great price for three full years of high school history.

The first book in the series is World History - Observations and Assessments from Creation to Today and is recommended for 10th grade. The student text has 34 chapters covering topics of history starting in Mesopotamia all the way through the World Wars and Beyond. Each chapter has five lessons with four days of reading and writing assignments. The fifth day's lesson is the weekly exam found in the teacher's edition. The weekly exam will consist of timeline questions, matching, discussion and essay type questions. The author recommends that the weekly exam not be open book. The text readings for each daily lesson are only 1-2 pages making it very manageable. The World History edition is 288 pages. We found while reading through the World History text that in my opinion a 9th grader could also do this text.

The second book in the series is British History - Observations and Assessments from Early Cultures to Today and is recommended for 11th grade. The British History edition also consists of 34 chapters with five lessons a week. Four days of reading and writing assignments with the fifth day being the weekly exam. Topics covered range from Early England up to World War II, the Cold War and the End of an Empire. Each daily assignment should only take 20 - 30 minutes. The British History edition is 272 pages long and the daily lessons consist of 1-2 pages of reading then writing assignments.

The third book in this series is American History - Observations and Assessments from Early Settlement to Today and is recommended for 12th grade. The American History edition is one hundred pages longer than the other two books coming in at 382 pages. Topics included in this edition range from Natives of the new World to the War on Terrorism and Contemporary Issues. Again this text also has 34 chapters with five daily lessons consisting of four days of reading and assignments ending with a weekly exam on day five. The readings in this text's lessons are longer at 2-5 pages. Also the writing assignments seem longer and more involved as well as the vocabulary from the text readings being more intense. In light of this my opinion would be to use this edition for a 11th or 12th grader. Of course for history minded go getters, earlier grades could accomplish this text.

Each student edition has a corresponding teacher's edition. First thoughts and learning objectives are included for each chapter. Assignments and answers for each lesson can also be found in the teacher's edition. In the back of the edition you will locate the weekly exams. Included in the exam is also recommended grading for each question. I would highly recommend purchasing the teacher's edition. It helps tremendously gauging answers for the discussion and essay questions. If the teacher's edition is not purchased, the weekly exams can be downloaded for free from the website For Such a Time as This.

At this time I would like to include a few sample questions from each edition to give you an idea of what would be expected of your student:

  • "If the Aztecs had conquered Spain, would they have treated the Spanish people differently? Why or why not?" (American History Student Edition, pg. 18)
  • "Discuss the causes and results of the Salem Witch Trails." (American History Weekly Exam, pg. 148)
  • "Contrast your ife with the life of an Elizabethan." (British History, Student Edition, pg. 57)
  • "In retrospect, how should England have responded to nascent German, Italian and Japanese totalitarianism?" (British History Weekly Exam, pg. 127)
  • "Compare and contrast Zoroastranism and Judaism."  (World History Student Edition, pg. 32)
  • "Why did Germany, firmly in control of Europe in 1940, eventually lose World War II in 1945?" (World History Weekly Exam, pg. 143)

As you can see these questions are in place to really make the student think critically. Not many programs these days will do that. In my opinion this product revolves heavily around the student and having them take responsibility for the reading and writing assignments. This would be a great product for independent learners as well as students that have trained classically or with Charlotte Mason Methods.

In all three student editions you will find narrative backgrounds, critical thinking questions, concepts/generalizations, history makers, historiographies or historical debate, world view formation, history and world view overviews. This history program has students concentrating on the cultures of that time frame, world views, and philosophies of the people studied. In many cases regarding the critical thinking questions the student will need to use their own opinions to form answers. Each book at 34 chapters is meant to be used over 34 weeks. The order of the books is not written in stone and can be switched, taking into consideration the student's interests and maturity level. All of the editions are approached through a Biblical lense with a Christian worldview. Through all the editions illustrations are numerous. At least one illustration per page can be found. All illustrations are in black and white. According to the author, no other resources are needed to complete the course except a notepad and pen or pencil. In the back of each student text can be found a glossary of terms and a timeline of material covered. I really appreciate the glossary for those harder words.

Overall we enjoyed reviewing this product. I like the straight to the point manner of this product. My daughter very much appreciates a program that is user friendly and simply requires her to read information then write or discuss about it. I have had my eye on this product for about six months and was considering it for our high school years. After reviewing this history series it will definitely be used. I like the fact that I can basically hand her the material and let her do it on her own. There was very little work for me other than grading and maybe some discussion. In all fairness I feel I should touch on the fact that some students may feel overwhelmed if they are not accustomed to learning and thinking critically. All in all I believe this is a good product at a very economical price. As a family we are looking forward to working our way through all three books during the high school years.

Product review by Diane Knecht, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2012