The Master and His Apprentices Art History (My Review)
I don’t know about you but in our home, we see art history as a reflection and extension of world history as a whole and this curriculum provides plenty of information to support this. Rather than seeing the arts as a separate area of history, The Master and His Apprentices tie the arts into what was happening in the world during each period.
I like how this text begins…well…right at the beginning. First, you are encouraged to pause and think about what the word art means to you. That’s a broad question but it does get your grey matter moving. I have to admit I have a tough time sticking art into a specific box and, like the author of this text, believe that art imitates life and there is art in all that we see in our wonderful world, created by The Master for His apprentices.
Beginning with a chapter on Creation, Ms. Ferguson takes us step-by-step through the first six days. While this chapter is heavy in biblical references and filled with discussion on Creation there is also a lot of information that may be considered more scientific. For example, did you know that a giant squid’s eyeball can grow up to 10 inches in diameter? Or that Gray whales migrate more than 10,000 miles every year (from Mexico to Northern Alaska)?
I found we skipped around a bit in this chapter since reading a full Bible passage in the midst of learning about the sun, the stars, and the creatures broke things up a bit too much for an 11-year-old to keep track of. Of course, this is one of the nice things about this curriculum, it is very easy to adapt to your family’s needs.
Getting back to my earlier comment that art imitate life, I am impressed with the layout of this book. Each area of the arts is combined in the well written text explaining what else was going on in the region and the world during those periods. It helps tie things together and bring them into life.
I really liked that there were timelines provided for each period that included important world events and art, the major art pieces of the period, as well as Biblical events and Christian history. (I found it was nice to have these placed in the binder so we could view the entire document as we read through our text.)
Using this book as an art and history supplement for our fifth-grade student seemed a little difficult when I began to read the text but EJ reading it together (and as I said previously we did change up the order a bit to help keep things easier to understand).
He also enjoyed working on the questions from the teacher’s guide together (he often knew the answer as soon as I had read the question). As an added activity he enjoyed looking up the art pieces and artists on the internet and using Google Earth to see what the facilities look like that house these priceless works of art and the areas where the artists had created their works.
In regards to this, there is a handy section near the back of the book that lists works of art by location so it was fairly easy to work geography into our art history lessons. We’ve even added a couple of these spots to our travel bucket list!
Since we were using this curriculum as a supplement we didn’t work through it from front to back. I didn’t find that this was an issue since each chapter, and really each section, was quite self-contained with all of the information you needed. I also found that some of the text comparing Biblical records to secular were a bit heavy and not necessarily in complete alignment with our family’s beliefs so paraphrased them when we did use them for our discussions.
There were some specific areas we spent more time on, including the section on Tutankhamun and Ancient Egypt. Since we have a visit planned to the California Science Center in Los Angeles to see King Tut – Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh this fall. Learning about this famous “Boy King” ahead of time has increased our excitement for the trip and also laid the groundwork for further learning.
Another area we spent extra time on was the High Italian Renaissance since some of EJ’s favorite artists worked in this period. Leonardo da Vinci and his Last Supper and Mona Lisa are favorite works and easily recognized by a child who visits galleries and enjoys looking through art books. Reading about how The Last Supper had been damaged by a bomb during WWII was quite upsetting to him and led him to look up more of this time in history (I always encourage him to follow his curiosity for learning!)
Learning more about what was happening to the Catholic church during this time was interesting to him as well (although he was sad to learn that some artwork had been destroyed during this time). This led to another visit to Google where he learned about King Henry VIII creating the Church of England.
While using this as a supplement to EJ’s studies, I found myself getting interested in the text and decided to do some reading myself. I found the text to be very well arranged as I worked through the lessons. I found that even when I had to refer back to the text I was able to easily thanks to the subheadings that clearly laid out what was in each section. I can see EJ working through this as a high school student without getting frustrated (as he easily can if it is difficult to look back for references that are hard to find).
There is so much to learn in this almost 400-page volume, I can certainly understand how it qualifies as a full elective credit for high school purposes. I can see us using this with additional activities (papers, essays) and using it as part of our history curriculum once EJ is a little older.
From the introduction of art, through Creation, Ancient Cultures, Classical Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, to the Baroque Era and beyond, this volume does not disappoint. Whether you are using it as a supplement for a younger child, as a full curriculum for a high school student, or even studying art history yourself there is a plethora of information to be found in this book.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also speak about the handy teacher’s guide that is available to accompany the text. As I said, we found the questions were arranged and easily lined up to the sections in the textbook so it was easy to refer back if you wanted to use an open book method for learning. The teacher’s guide also includes instructions for both teachers in a classroom setting as well as parents using the material at home.
I was impressed to find sample attendance and grade sheets, syllabus, and helpful reminders for the parent/teacher arranged by week/section. It is nice to find a curriculum that is turnkey and does not take a lot of preparation time, especially when you are looking at high school students who will be doing a lot of the work independently.
Overall, we liked this curriculum. We were able to easily modify it for our family and turn it into a valuable supplemental art history program for our fifth going into sixth grader. I have also enjoyed working through some of the chapters myself.
If you are looking for an art history elective for your high schooler that is written from a strong Christian perspective The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective may well be a perfect choice.
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