Simply Put is just what it says. Simple. Very simple. At first, I was really disappointed. Sometimes with reviews, you really do get what you paid for, and based solely on the size of the book, and the length of the teacher guide pdf, I was certain this was one of those times.
But I committed to use the materials, and even though I was pretty sure this wasn't worth anywhere near the 1/2 credit that Catherine Jaime claims it to be, well, I had to work with it because I promised.
I am using this with all three of my teens -- 11th, 9th and 7th grades. The older two are getting high school credit for this (which is the first hint as to my opinion!) and Thomas is just along for the ride. There are 36 total lessons, along with eight appendices, a midterm, final, and a couple suggestions for extra activities in the Teacher's Key.
We're doing two lessons a week, which means this course will last one semester (18 weeks) or a bit longer if we take a little more time for the midterm, final, and other activities. You could also use it at a rate of one lesson a week and earn the 1/2 credit over a full year.
The basic process:
- I read the lesson out loud. I have a couple of struggling readers, so it is easier this way. Regardless, though, the beauty of this course is the discussion, and in my family, that wouldn't happen the same way if we didn't interact with the material together. I highly recommend this. The readings themselves are pretty short, most of the time. Five to ten minutes, max.
- We discuss stuff as we go. And all four of us are likely to be interrupting the reading to say, "That reminds me of..." or "But what if..." or "Do you think that is really true?" I think the shortest (after the first week or two) discussion has been around twenty minutes. And it usually comes up again when Dad gets home, or when we are all in the car going somewhere, or just out of the blue.
- There are discussion questions in the back of the book. I ask those, the kids generally can answer them pretty quickly, and for the occasional question that they simply don't know, I go back and re-read the pertinent paragraph (typically, that would be for a question like the last one in lesson seven, "Name two Austrian economists." There were four names mentioned in the lesson, but after all the other discussions, the kids only came up with Hazlitt (Henry Hazlitt) by name. They were able to say that the main one being discussed was in the middle of the last century and he was brought up because he was pushing the laissez-faire government idea. But his name? No one could remember at all. The discussions are sometimes pretty short, but often they get us pretty involved too.
- Some lessons have additional resources suggested. These include videos from Izzit.org (I joined this year, specifically so I can get more resources for this economics course), YouTube videos, articles at fee.org, the materials in an appendix, etc. We are trying to use as much of this as we can, because I have been incredibly impressed with the suggestions so far.
From there, I went to the University of Minnesota, and ultimately majored in Accounting. I took as many Economics courses as I could, and I'm pretty sure it was enough to earn an economics minor (they wouldn't award minors at that time though). My favorite was a course in economics in third world areas.
That means, economics is a subject I find fascinating, and I absolutely planned to insist on my kids taking a course before they left high school, only I hadn't found anything I loved. Now that is SIMPLE for me to do. And... finally... my opinion:
This course is practically perfect.
- The cost is amazing ($6.99 right now for digital editions at CurrClick, or a physical copy of the book is $25 at Creative Learning Connection).
- It is very easy to use, even if you don't understand economics. Catherine puts things in a VERY easy-to-grasp way, using a minimum of graphs and math. Very accessible.
- It is thorough. It may seem wimpy at first glance, with a skinny book and very short lessons, but there is a lot of information there, and it covers things well.
- Catherine is totally upfront about her biases. I know I never saw that in any of the half-dozen economics texts I used, nor in anything else I've looked at for my kids. Even if you don't understand what in the world she means when she tells you "This book is written by a 'classic liberal' -- nowadays more often called a conservative, and that clearly shows throughout." you at least know that she is admitting to her point of view, and you will learn what that means over the course of the lessons.
- My boys -- all three of them -- love it.
- When do you take the midterm? Okay, if I go look at the answer key, I see that it covers the first 18 lessons, but there is nothing in the text that I found to indicate that.
- When do you use the various appendices? Most have a note in one of the lessons referring to them, but there are a couple that I just don't see referenced at all. I'll just add the material somewhere.
- I love the use of the videos from Izzit, but it would be nice to have some idea as to which videos are going to be recommended and when, so that I could get them ordered in advance. I went through and made notes by skimming the footnotes, but it is certainly possible I missed something.
- The activities in the teacher's guide too, I'm not really sure at what point to try to use those.
My kids' opinions: All three of them are loving this course. They've asked a time or two if I helped to write it, as "she says the same things you do, Mom!" I'm looking forward to the chapter on price gouging, as they are just going to be amazed at the similarities there. (I read ahead before writing this review!)
The two high schoolers are both incredibly pleased to have a fairly easy half-credit this year. Even for kids who haven't had laws of economics spouted at them by a mother ranting against something stupid that a politician just said, we think this course would be on the 'less intense' side. For my kids, though, it is easy.
Connor, the 16 year old, commented that he thinks everyone needs to understand this stuff.
Bottom line: this is so affordable, I really think every homeschooled high school student ought to take this course. Especially as it is a great chance for family discussions about some really important things. And you'll probably learn something too. I did, in the chapter on speculators.
I have the chance to give away a digital copy of this curriculum!
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There is a huge giveaway too!
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You can read more reviews at Bow of Bronze.