Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review: TruthQuest History, Middle Ages


If there are two things that we love studying in our homeschool, it's history and literature.  In fact, we love to study them together.  When we were given the opportunity to review TruthQuest History, a literature-based history study, it seemed right up our alley.

About TruthQuest History

From the publisher...

TruthQuest History is a deep and rich literature-based history study…but with a difference. You will not learn the story of mankind; you will learn the lovestory of mankind. You will not focus on the rise and fall of human civilizations; you will focus on the arrow-straight line of God's unchanging existence, power, love, truth, and plan for civilization. You will not simply 'meet the culture' or 'get the facts;' you will probe the truths of history so deeply that your students will be equipped to change their world!

To sum up their thoughts on studying history: God initiates... People respond...History happens. Wow!  How's that for a great perspective?  You can read more about their philosophy HERE.

The history guides are made up of four parts:

1) Commentary for each topic.
2) Reading lists, organized by grade level, for each topic.
3) Think Write exercises to help students internalize key truths.
4) An appendix which offers sample answer to help evaluate the students knowledge.

You can also purchase companion products such as Binder-Builders, Notebooking pages, or a Map/Timeline/ Report package to go along with your study.

Our Experience

We were given the opportunity to review the print version of Middle Ages History Guide.  My daughter was really excited because she enjoyed her last trip through the middle ages.

The first thing that I did was take a look at the book list.  I live in the largest city in our state and we have a HUGE library system so I felt confident that I wouldn't have any trouble locating books.  Before I even started my library search, I found a couple of the recommended "spines" in our personal collection, as well as a couple of topic-specific books.

Thank goodness I did, because out of the 100 books that I tried to locate, I only found four.  Four. And that included  trying to locate free e-books online after I scoured our enormous library system.  And here I was worried that about having too many to choose from.  Yikes!

Regardless, we plunged ahead with our studies.  The lessons generally started with a short commentary in the guide book.  Then you get to pick and choose from the book list to learn more about the topic.  Or in our case, read what you can actually find.  There is generally a Think Write exercise to go along with each lesson.

The commentaries themselves were a bit awkward to read aloud.  The tone of the writing seemed almost...hyper.  There were a lot of exclamations.  Hey!  Oopps! Hmmm. Okay! are found frequently throughout the text.   And quite often the commentary was overly wordy while trying to explain concepts.  Kind of like when someone is trying too hard or very passionate about something.  At any rate, the tone was very distracting for my daughter and she had a hard time focusing on what they were trying to get across.  It just didn't click for us.

We also had difficulty completing the Think Write exercises.  I'm sure not being able to find enough resources had everything to do with it.  I even bought the Binder Builder companion in the hopes that having more specific instructions would help, but it didn't really make a difference and we eventually stopped trying to use them.

The biggest issue we had was with the program was trying to figure out the reading assignments themselves.  Time after time, the pages cited in the book did not line up with the topic that we were supposed to be studying.  It became quite stressful.

As it turns out, the books that they were basing the assignments on were from very old editions, a lot of times the original printings, and that was the reason for the discrepancies.  And I have to give the company major props here, as soon as they were alerted to the problem they immediately took steps to help alleviate it.

Because there are varying editions of some "spine" resources (reference books) cited in TruthQuest History, we have been asked by those who choose to use spines (they are not "required") to give detailed information about the actual edition used in creating TQH's citations. You can compare your copy—if it differs—and quickly locate the correct passage, because here you can see the actual chapter title that goes with the chapter number cited in TruthQuest History. The chapter titles are usually quite similar in different editions, unlike the numbering. We are glad to help in this way!

It didn't alleviate the problem in it's entirety, as a lot of the editions were so old that they are radically different from newer editions, but, boy oh boy, was I impressed with their customer service.  Wow!!!  To react that quickly shows such dedication and loyalty to their customers.  Wow!!!  I have dealt with companies who could care less about customer satisfaction once they had their money.   This is a stand up company.

In the end, this wasn't something that worked well for us.  The language was not our style and I do not enjoy a big hunt for books.  However, that's just us.  Different people enjoy different types of writing and I know lots of people who LOVE to dig through the library and used book shops.

In light of that, I'll leave  you with a pro and con list so you can make the decision for yourself.  (And be sure to check out the samples on the website.)

Pros:

1) Very adaptable.  You can use their book lists or do some tweaking with some choices of your own. And it would be easy to adapt for different ages.
2) It has a somewhat chronological order so it would be useful to those who follow classical education methods.
3) Huge list of books.  Many that you might not have thought of.
4) It makes you think about history with a God-focus instead of a mankind focus.  Another wow!!
5) The customer service is stellar.  They want to give you a good experience.
6) The price is right. =o)

Cons:

1) While the book list is extensive, a lot of them are out of print and hard to locate.
2) There isn't really a schedule.  You get to totally pick and choose.  I realize that this will be a plus for many of you. This is a con to box checkers like me. LOL
3)  The tone of the commentaries didn't suit my daughter's personality.  It was too distracting for her.
4) Even with the extra helps the company now provides, it is still difficult to locate the correct pages in the readings.
5) There were many books recommended that the author admitted she hadn't read.  I found that odd and it made me a little uncomfortable.

F.Y.I.

Website: http://truthquesthistory.com/default.php
Age Range: Grades 1-12
Price: PDFs start at $19.95 and print copies start at $24.95

Click the Crew banner to read more reviews about TruthQuest.





Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the TruthQuest History Guide for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

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1 comment:

North Laurel said...

I think you and I felt somewhat the same about this one. Very good review :)

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