Starting Points Worldview Based Writing Lesson Review

Book & Curriculum Reviews, Worldview, Writing 1 Comment

When Gileskirk quit publishing their terrific worldview curriculum, I was often asked what would I suggest in its place. That’s a tough question because Gileskirk was so good I’ve found something I am confident you can use as a foundation for your high school students as you teach Christian Worldview. – Starting Points, by David Quine.

In the past, I was frustrated with Quine’s programs because there was not much support. Andrew Pudewa has come along and provided support for Quine’s Starting Points Program. Pudewa’s Excellence in Writing has published a guide to writing assignments that correlate with Starting Points. Watch to see more.

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Excellence in Literature – What’s this?

College, Curriculum Connection, History, Homeschooling, Kerry Beck, Living Books & Classics, Reading, Worldview, Writing 1 Comment

At first glance, I wasn’t sure about Janice Campbell’s new book, Excellence in Literature.  But when I began reading the introduction and all the material available for high school students to use in literature studies, I was sold on the program.

Mrs. Campbell has done an excellent job of creating a college-prep course that high school students can use independently.  Let’s face it, by the time a student is in high school, teachers should not be spoon-feeding them.  Students should assume responsibility for leaning and use Excellence in Literature (EIL) as a guide for their study routine.  Not only is this my belief, this is Campbell’s belief as stated in the Overview.

Check out this video to learn more:

In this guide, you will find a wide variety of helps for high school literature.  Let me share just a few:

  • Specific instructions for each assignment
  • Suggested schedule to follow for each piece of literature
  • References for background & research of each work
  • Time management & organization tips
  • Specific tips on how to read a book (Fiction, Poetry, Tragedy, Comedy, Challenging Literature)
  • Variety of writing topics for each piece

Most of the work in this course is done by the student.  Parents & teachers come alongside to guide and evaluate the student’s writings and readings.  That saves moms & teachers a lot of time!

I wish there was a course like this when my children were in high school.  I would definitely had used it because it would make it very easy for me to “teach” literature in high school.

Since the parent/teacher is not actively teaching, the student is responsible for “learning” or discovering what each literature piece is all about.  To summarize, students will

  • Study the book, following the scheduled assignments
  • Ask their mentor when they don’t understand
  • Actively seek to learn from each assignment
  • Complete each assignment
  • Make no excuses! (I really like this one)
  • Enjoy Fine Literature (Of course, I love this!)

If you are following the Leadership Education/Thomas Jefferson Education model, Excellence in Literature is a perfect complement for the Scholar stage.  Janice provides just enough guidelines for students to get started, but leaves it open-ended enough to allow students to learn on their own.  One particular section I think is pertinent to Scholar phase students is the section on discerning worldviews in literature.  This helps your Scholar student understand what the worldview of that time period is so he can better study the piece of literature at hand.

If you are following a Classical model of education, you will find literature that is truly classic.  Your students will use their independent learning skills to enjoy and study great works of literature.  As they read these pieces, they should grown in their love of learning.

I believe Charlotte Mason would endorse this guide, too.  Ms. Mason wholeheartedly believed in literature based education.  EIL uses literature that are truly “living books”.  This literature provides opportunities to discuss lessons that pertain to our lives today.  Thus, making them living books you will want to read  & discuss with your children.

For each unit, Mrs. Campbell shares the edition of the text she recommends, as well as additional texts you may use for honor students.  The background information she provides includes the literary period, a unit focus, an introduction (short), something to think about, and something to be sure to notice.  Context resources cover the readings itself, the author’s life, and poetry/poets of that time period.  Enrichment resources include music, audio books, videos, visual arts, historical context, places to go, and just for fun.

Finally, your student has the assignment schedule for that unit.  The schedule is divided by weeks and includes reading & writing assignments.  As the parent or teacher, you should check the progress of your students each week and guide them through their writing projects.

As a bonus, you will receive some fantastic extras in the back of this book.

  • An Honors Program is outlined for those families who want to go over & above this college-prep course.
  • Formats & Models provides sample formats for the different writing projects assigned throughout the year. Not only will you have an outline or model of what your student should consider for each paper, you will receive samples (or models) of each type of writing.
  • Excellence in Literature Evaluation Rubric gives the mentor a specific checklist to use in evaluating the student’s writing. If you use IEW now, you can use the additional Evaluation Rubric for IEW students.
  • Student Evaluation Summary is a chart you can use throughout the year to record progress. It specifically records the mentor’s evaluation of writing projects.
  • The Glossary defines terms for the students as they study Literature.
  • Selected Resources are additional resources the mentor or student may want to use in their study of British literature.

Overall, Excellence in Literature is a superb guide for high school students to use with their mentor/parent/teacher.  It encourages responsibility of the student as he studies & enjoys literature.

If there is a weakness in this program, it would be the idea of not encouraging the mentor to read & discuss the literature pieces with their student.  This is easily overcome because Janice gives some great “things to consider” and ideas to think critically about in the writing assignments.  I would encourage mentors to use the ideas in each unit as a basis for verbal discussion.  If your students struggle with the writing assignment, be sure to verbally discuss the assignment so they can get ideas out of their head.

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Mentoring, Raising Leaders, Reading, Worldview 3 Comments

Great Books? Classics? Worldview?

Over the past few years there has been a revival to use Great Books and classics in your homeschool. These books are wonderful in that they teach your children a variety of lessons, concepts and principles. But, is reading some of the Great Books enough? Is writing about the Great Books enough?

You may wonder why I bring up this subject. Over the past several months I’ve had conversations with homeschool parents about what they do with their older children. Since popular homeschool books and curricula suggest reading the Great Books, they begin promptly at ninth grade. Some start even sooner. If you aren’t familiar with Great Books, it is a list of the Great Books of Western Civilization. You can read more about these books at

My concern isn’t the fact that homeschoolers are reading the Great Books and classics of our civilization. What concerns me is how those books are used. Many of the ones that have read these books fall either boast of the number of books they’ve read as if it makes them better than others. Or, they tell me all about these books, but don’t really understand how the book lines up with Scripture.

If students aren’t taught to use a Biblical worldview as they read, I think they are coming up short. These books should be compared to Scripture, especially the Great Books because many of the Great Books are pagan. I’m not opposed to reading those books, but you must look at the thoughts, philosophies and principles within them from a Biblical perspective.

Most adults and teenagers, have a difficult time analyzing these books Biblically. That stems from the fact we were not taught how to do this when we were in school.

So, what can you do? I’d like to share a few ideas we have used to make your readings more profitable.

1. Parents Read books Along with Students – As parents, you should read the Great Books or classics at the same time your students are doing so. Don’t depend on the fact that you read these in high school. Let me tell you from my own experience, it doesn’t work. When my oldest daughter read Pride & Prejudice several years ago, I tried to discuss it by just using the Cliff Notes. It was a disaster! I really didn’t remember the story, nor could I talk to her about the lessons we could learn from this novel.

2. Daily Reading Journal – Both mom and students should keep a daily reading journal. If dad is the one reading the books with the children, he should keep a journal. At the beginning, your students will probably just re-tell what they read. Your journal should be different and discuss what you learn from those pages. Then, you can encourage your children to interact with the text by reading your jouranl entries to them. When they hear your entries with your thoughts about the readings, they will start to see a better way to write a journal entry.

3. Discuss the Books with Your Children – Once a week, discuss the classic or greata book you are reading along with your children. Have everyone bring their reading journal, so they can share what they learned from the book. The best way you can lead a discussion is by using questions. Be sure to allow plenty of silence after your questions for your children to think about the answers. Too often, parents answer their own question and don’t allow enough time to contemplate what is being asked. The best thing you can do when leading is a discussion is to never answer your own question. If no one can answer the question, pose another question to get to the matter at hand.

4. Apply Scripture to Your Readings – In your reading journal and discussion, you must bring in Scripture that agrees or disagrees with the book. As you do this, your children will begin to see the importance of analyzing all of their readings from a Biblical perspective. This is the foundation for their future. If your children can analyze books from a Christian perspective, they should be able to translate that activity to other areas of life (family, business, community politics and so forth).

My favorite time to discuss from a Biblical perspective is dinner time. Dad and Mom are both present and give a different outlook on the same situation. Don’t make this too hard. Make your discussions and Biblical applications a part of the life you already lead. Make it part of your daily activities, such as a meal time.

If drawing Biblical applications from your studies is difficult for you, I highly recommend using Gileskirk Humanities. They’ve done most of the work for you!


I can probably read your mind right now. It’s saying, “That’s a lot of work! I don’t think I can do it.” I completely understand because I know it’s a ton of work. I try to do this with my own children and realized where I come short as I wrote this article.

On the other hand, it is one of the most rewarding activities I’ve done with my children. In a few short years they will not be living under my roof. Will they be prepared to live with a Biblical worldview? If I don’t work hard now, my children are the ones who will suffer later.

When your children were small, they needed you just to survive. Now that they are older, they can get by without your help. You get comfortable not being as tired with your family work. My encouragement to you is to keep working a few more years by giving your children the Biblical foundation they so desperately need for their future.

Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. Colossians 1:28-29

Work hard now with your children, through God’s might power, so you can present your children to Jesus as mature believers.

(c) Kerry Beck, 2007

Feel free to share this article, as long as you include the following bio in full.


Kerry Beck is a wife, homeschool mom and business educator. She authors books such as Raising Leaders, Not Followers; Hop Off the Conveyor Belt; Teach Your Child “How to Think” with Mentoring, and recently published her first multi-media course, Secrets to Online Auction Success. She wants to give you a free report, “How to Get It All Done” at Christian Homeschool Curriculum

Gileskirk Answers

History, Raising Leaders, Worldview No Comments

Below are some answers about my favorite high school curriculum – Gileskirk Humanities. I usually prefer to choose my own curriculum, but not when I prepare my children to think Biblically before leaving home. Nothing compares to George Grant and Gileskirk.

First of all, I am very interested in knowing the average time to complete the Gileskirk daily assignments. I want to know how time consuming this program is and what other subjects we would still need to add to this.

Once we got into the groove of Gileskirk, it takes very little prep time for me, except listening to lectures and reading the books. My kids spend about 1 ½-2 hours each day working on Gileskirk. Two days they watch the lecture, two days they catch up on reading/reading journals. We review the week’s lessons on Thursday and they take the quiz/opportunity on Friday.

As far as literature goes, too, I think I heard that we would need to add to this to create a complete literature course.

This really depends on how you approach literature. I’ve used some study guides to help me through some titles we have read. Other than that, we have Socratic discussions about the literature we are reading. I can read the daily reading journals to see what the kids are learning from their readings. I often tie in a formal writing assignment with the readings. If you want something all laid out for your literature, you will need to get some supplements. I have not seen the updated versions of this course to know how many lit helps there are. When we used Modernity, there were lots of quizzes, journal starters and tests.

Is this course only for very bright students or can average students use this and get a good understanding of the Christian worldview as well? We really want to learn and teach the Christian worldview in a deep way to our children.

Average students can use this course. There may be an adjustment period at first and you may need to alter the assignments the first few months to ease into it, but we haven’t had a hard time after the initial few months.

In my opinion, Gileskirk is the best program for a Christian worldview in high school. It has answers to questions and helps for moms.

So, yes, it is worth the money in my opinion. Once you buy it, you can use it over & over again for all your kids.

Here’s my review of Gileskirk
If you use BECK in the shipping code, you can receive free &/or discounted shipping.  Order here


Duke & Worldview of Architecture…really!

Bible, Worldview 1 Comment

My kids really wanted to visit Duke University. In the back of my mind, I thought, “It’s just a bunch of buildings:. Was I ever wrong?

At the hotel, I discovered they had a sports museum, so we headed to Duke before traveling to Winston-Salem for the book fair. Before we found the sports museum, we found the University Chapel. Chapel is an understatement. It’s really an awesome cathedral. We walked through it and were in awe of the beauty and devotion the builders must have to complete such a gorgeous building.

As moderns of the twenty-first century, we don’t appreciate architecture that takes more than a few years to build. Cathedrals often took 100 years to build. This tells me they had a very different worldview. These men had a multi-generational view of life. They built cathedrals, knowing it would not be finished in their lifetimes, for their great-grandchildren.

What a lesson we can learn today. We are such an individualistic society, living for the moment and for ourselves. As you consider your daily endeavors, are you taking into consideration your children and grandchildren?

Next we visited the sports museum, honoring the athletes who won national championships in basketball, golf, lacrosse and other sports. My kids enjoy watching Coach K and the Duke basketball teams as they play for championship status. I just bought a book about Coach K and his approach to coaching and leading the basketball team. The book was quickly snatched up by my son and daughter. I guess I’ll read it later this summer, after they finish it.

Coach K is a gifted leader and I hope to share lessons in raising leaders with you after I read his book. BTW, I am rewriting my Raising Leaders book series to include some all-new information I’ve discovered from wise men.