Reviewed by Stacey Smith
Where did I come from, and why am I here? Why is there evil, suffering, and death? Is there hope for my future?
Philosophers have wrestled with these questions since ancient times. Philosophy Adventure by Stacy Farrell is a curriculum that challenges students to grapple with these questions themselves. Her goal was to create a curriculum that is engaging, easy-to-use, and empowering. She succeeded. This course has been artfully crafted to help middle and high school students cultivate and defend a Biblical worldview.
Stacy Farrell designed a comprehensive curriculum that teaches students to write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately while studying the history of philosophy and the origin of philosophical ideas. The course includes a reading text, a student workbook, and a teacher resource notebook and is available in print form, on a cd, or as a digital download.
The reading text has a colorful layout and includes both beautiful images and engaging text. Each philosopher’s story is divided into five sections: Read, Write, Think, Speak, and Contrast.
The Read section includes a two-page biographical sketch of the philosopher. This sketch not only includes the when and the where of the philosopher’s life, but also piques the student’s attention with interesting anecdotes from the philosopher’s life and his main accomplishments and beliefs.
The Write section gives students the opportunity to develop and polish their writing skills. As the students practice their writing skills, they are supported and encouraged through the use of the seven writing checklists that are included in the course.
The Think section helps students to develop critical thinking skills and evaluate resources. By completing the exercises in the Speak section, students will not only hone their public speaking skills, but will also strengthen their apologetics skills. This section also includes geographical information pertaining to the life of the philosopher and the school of thought in which the philosopher participated.
The final section, Contrast, includes two parts. The first part contains either actual source material written by the philosopher or secondary source material if no primary source material survived. The second part compares and contrasts the ideas of the philosopher through the lens of Scriptural truth.
The student notebook includes notebooking pages for reading response questions, journaling, mapping activities, vocabulary pages, and creative freewriting assignments. In addition, it includes writing checklists for the student, and a final writing evaluation checklist. The notebooking pages are well-designed and easy to use. The writing checklists are designed to help students learn to evaluate and correct their own writing.
The teacher resource notebook contains memory work cards, timeline resources, master maps with keys, and quizzes with quiz keys. These resources have been thoughtfully designed to take the guess-work out of planning and grading. Even evaluating the student’s writing, normally a difficult and subjective job, has been made simple through the use of easy-to-use checklists.
I am excited about using this curriculum with my middle school and high school aged children. I’m also planning to take Stacy Farrell’s challenge to memorize the book of Philippians as a family as we complete this study. This course could be used as a high school level writing class, philosophy course, speech class, or apologetics course. Farrell’s statement, “…the future of freedom may depend upon how many of us wake up to the world of ideas and seek to discern and defend truth,” really captures the heart of the author and explains why she labored diligently to bring the homeschool community such a great resource.
Update: In 2015 my ninth grader used Philosophy Adventure. Read what she thinks about it here.