I received a copy of the Master and His Apprentices; Art History from a Christian Perspective from The Master and His Apprentices to review. This review will be little different because my kids are too young to use this so I was the one who actually used this. Here are my impressions if you would like to read.
On the Books
I got a package of the textbook and a teacher’s guide in digital format. There are also print versions, if that’s something that you would prefer. Personally, I’m happy with the digital version because the books are not light reading — literally. The textbook is 380 pages long so it will be too heavy to haul around.
It’s length is not due to the wordiness of the writer, but because of the information packed into it. The subject matter spans across cultures and time periods. With lots of areas to cover, it’s no wonder its big book.
The books are more suited for older learners because of the details presented. From an old fogey like me to high school students. Students who go through the book can earn a full year of high school credit. But younger kids can also benefit from it. In our case, my kids liked looking at the pictures. The book includes hundred and hundreds of pictures of art works.
The material breaks down the topics into periods: The Beginning, Ancient Cultures, Classical Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque and Beyond. At the end of the book, there are essays and timelines that can help put perspective on what the book has covered.
The teacher’s guide has open-ended questions for discussion, worksheets, and even exams to come up with a more structured form of learning. I noticed the focus on these learning tools is towards analyzing the content. It doesn’t require memorization, but rather being able to describe a period in relation to another.
On My Impression
I think that the book covers a lot of topics, which makes it worthwhile to look. Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising considering that art has existed since the beginning of history. As jam-packed as this book is, it doesn’t even cover art history in entirety. Possible Book 2 maybe?
The book really lives up to its title. One of the things I liked most about it is that in the introduction, the author took time to explain the purpose of the book. The idea of God as the original artist — he is the Creator, after all — and all the other artists in history are his apprentices, just jumped out to me. Honestly, I will be thinking about this my whole life. It’s such an beautiful perspective and I will be repeating this to others, of course, crediting it to this book, to anyone who would listen.
I like that the content of the book doesn’t just talk about art history, but actually tackles history as a whole. I think it’s important to provide context to the art to be able to understand it better. Even innovators like Leonardo da Vinci operate within their societies. Getting a glimpse of the culture and events at that time is helpful to making sense of the art produced.
But, one very important thing I think people should know about these books is that it is clear that the author believes in a young Earth, placing creation at around 4004 B.C. In fact, the book is very vocal about Christian beliefs.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise since it says so in the title. But I feel like since there are many differences even within Christians, this is not a book that you just assign to your kids. It is important for the parent to actually read through the book themselves and take time to figure out where you stand.
For example, I personally don’t believe in a young Earth, so it is something that I would skip or explain further when teaching my kids. I mention this because if you’re going to read The Master and His Apprentices, you will most certainly encounter doctrine and concrete teachings. Some might be in line with your beliefs, some might be contradictory. That’s why I think parents should read the book first, or read it alongside their kids, to be able to explain things further.
Having said that, the book and the teachers guide are well-organized and well-written. I will definitely be referring to this book when my kids are ready. Content-wise, it tackles the major points of art in history so this will make a good textbook for students. I also appreciate the Christian perspective and again, her main thesis of God being the master artist, is just (for lack of a better word) masterful.
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