Art history is something that I am not well versed in but something that I can see the benefit of. Being able to relate history and art can bring an understanding of past cultures, religions, and world events. That is what was sought by The Master and His Apprentices when creating this curriculum.
Authored by Gina Ferguson, The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective is a versatile curriculum. When approached as noted in the Teacher’s Guide and the syllabus found there, this program can serve as a full credit for high school. However, it could also serve as a supplemental curriculum for any level, or as a refresher (or first art history) course for adults. The versatility is part of what makes this a nice study, though I might classify this more as a history study than an art study.
As written, the program consists of a textbook and a teacher’s guide. Included in the teacher’s guide, there is a suggested syllabus or schedule, discussion guides and worksheets for each chapter, and four tests. There are also art history papers to write four times in the course. In addition to these, there are helpful suggestions for teaching the course in different settings (homeschool vs a co-op type setting) and an answer key for the discussion questions/worksheets. The teacher’s guide is available either in a PDF format or a printed softback format.
The textbook for The Master and His Apprentices is where the meat of this program is found. It is a hefty 380 pages of text and full-color images. We received it as a fixed-format PDF that can be printed but it is also available in the printed format. We have been using it directly off the computer and that is really quite difficult, especially with the timelines being so important for understand the relationships of different people, places, and artifacts.
The program goes from an introduction to art history and then into the art of God’s creation. From there, different people and times are addressed. Included are
- Ancient Cultures
- Classical Antiquity
- Middle Ages
- Baroque Era & Beyond
There is also an appendix containing some articles to further study topics and ideas, a period chart, a timeline, a listing of pieces by location, an index, and a couple of other required elements (like acknowledgements).
Working through the text, the information covered the history of an era or people and then some of the artwork, artifacts, architecture, and other pieces that represent them. The text is arranged chronologically. Each period is begun with an introduction to the history and place. The setting within world history and Christian history is a significant part of this portion. Then, it features works of art that are seen as important, either for secular or Biblical reasons.
Our Use of the Program
We have worked through about the first 3 chapters. What we have found is that, while interesting, it is necessary to skip parts of the text for continuity’s sake. Sometimes, the author’s attempt to keep God at the center really diminishes the ability to understand the information shared. The text often seems preachy and heavy-handed in the attempt to keep the Christian perspective so visible.
The worksheets that are in the teacher’s guide correspond to each chapter. Each culture basically gets its own chapter. The worksheets are simply numbered questions or statements designed to help the student think. These are great if your student is a worksheet oriented thinker but if you child is a discussion oriented thinker, these don’t really do much for the student. The teacher definitely has to get involved, which then makes for some good discussions.
After having using this program for a few weeks, we are going to modify it for continued use. We are going to go to the end and work forward. We have found is that because so much of the study is history based, you have to have something to tie it together with. If you do not have that timeline in your head to place the new cultures and pieces in, it is just random information that doesn’t really go anywhere or connect to anything. So, we are going to start with pieces that are recognizable and artists that we have studied. This will allow Miss E to connect with the material more concretely. Working backward through time will help her understand where things fit together and will help the material make more sense.
Because I am not a fan of the worksheets as they are designed in this program, we are going to create a project for each chapter for her to demonstrate her understanding and grasp of information. It might be a timeline for the chapter or a crossword puzzle with the names of artists and their works. It might be a drawing or a recreation of one of the pieces of artwork.
The other thing we are going to do is print the text and print the large timeline from the appendix of the text. Reading online is just not as brain-engaging as reading from a piece of paper. I don’t know why but we have found this to be true over and over. We will keep the PDF file handy for viewing the pieces in color since we only have a black-and-white printer. Having the printed timeline will also allow her to color code to her heart’s content and mark those connections that she finds and understands.
If you are looking for art history or a history program through art, take a look at this program. Because it is a Christian perspective, The Master and His Apprentices does not contain nudity. It is, however, unashamedly Christian. Each chapter has multiple references to God, the Bible, and Biblical history. There are specific paragraphs in each section reminding the reader to praise God and thank Him for so many wonderful creations.
I don’t mind the bold statements of Christianity and belief. However, there are some statements that are leaps of understanding. There are statements that I don’t necessarily agree with, even being Christian. I see these particularly in the second chapter on the creation account from the book of Genesis in the Bible. I think if we have any additional children use this, we will just skip that chapter.
Many other families have used this program in various ways. Please click the banner below to see how they used The Master and His Apprentices.