We have done pretty much nothing when it comes to art appreciation and art history, namely because I’m not okay with all the nudity involved. We have been reviewing the digital version of The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective and I’m so glad to say that this is the perfect resource for people like me who prefer to shield their children from nudity for art’s sake. It is not really intended for younger children (the verbiage and material is simply over their heads), so if you have teens, listen up!
We had the chance to take a look at the digital edition of the textbook and also the teacher’s guide. Note that The Master and His Apprentices offers a per-child license (at a VERY low cost!), and we were granted permission to use this with each child of our household for review purposes.
Now, as I mentioned, the text used with the teacher’s guide is intended for high school art history and is worth a full credit for art if you use the textbook along with the teacher’s guide. It is broken down into 36 weeks, to be used over the course of a year. Both of these products are PACKED with useful information and the application thereof. My oldest is only six years old, however, so we used it differently from how a family with older children might.
For us, The Master and His Apprentices was more about apologetics and art appreciation rather than a full study of art history. “The Master” is God, and this is thoroughly explained in the first chapter of the textbook. God is the original Creator; He set this beauty around us, even though He knew we would destroy it due to the Fall. I can only imagine how awesome His original earth was.
Anyway, God is the original Artist, the Master, and all other artists have only mimicked His work. From sunrises to the human form, they are all apprentices seeking to replicate the beauty of what is already before their eyes. I had never considered this way of thinking about it.
Speaking of human form, the text is appropriate for all ages from a nudity standpoint. As conservative Christians, we seek to save our children from the sexualization the world has to offer and build up their worth in Christ. I love that the company has purposed to keep things clean for the impressionable eyes and minds of children and teens. There is no nudity whatsoever.
How We Used It
I printed off both the textbook and teacher’s guide and bound them both. The textbook was almost 200 double-sided pages, including an appendix with over 50 pages of additional resources, and I don’t have large enough spirals to accommodate that but it was easy enough to split it into two. It’s not as heavy to handle that way also.
The textbook has full color images on each page. I have a color laser printer but this could also be outsourced to a copy shop (the binding, too). These might be of works of art or of the original masterpiece that God created (the sky, trees, etc.). My girls enjoyed going through it after we were done reading each day to see what else caught their eye.
I began to read the first chapter aloud to them and quickly saw that it was way over their heads. I had to keep stopping to explain things. That’s totally fine, but it made for a very slow lesson and they were getting bored. I loved it! And I think this would be good for adults interested in biblical history, art history, or just their own nerdy intellectual pursuits if you’re anything like me. 😉 While it is a lot of information and periodic reflection is necessary, I think a full chapter could be done in a week by highschoolers.
What I ended up doing was sitting down with my 6yo only (she’s almost 7 and her attention span is much longer than her sister’s) and doing it in small chunks every few days. We read the second chapter on Creation and it was so full of good information! We took it one day at a time, literally — we read about day 1 of Creation one day and then stopped so she could ponder on it and let it soak in. Then later began day 2, and so on. Some of the concepts are pretty abstract so the frequent breaks from the material were good, even for me.
I originally wanted to do an art project with them each time we read something, but I ultimately felt that would detract from the material being presented.
The teacher’s guide has a worksheet of questions for each chapter, which is broken down into one per week. This is where you’d want to purchase additional rights to use it with your other kids (it’s only $2 per kid at the time of this writing). I did some of the questions aloud with my daughter to help reinforce the material. These are not just to drill them about what they learned, but to get them thinking about God.
There are also instructions, a sample syllabus, sample grading sheet, assignments (e.g., papers to write), a glossary of terms to describe art, and an extensive answer key in the teacher’s guide.
PIN IT FOR LATER! Continued below….
We talked a lot anyway about what things mean and I tried to demonstrate what the authors were conveying a few times. In the second chapter, they discuss light on day 1 and how it affects how we view colors. I explained this to her further by showing her what her hazel eyes look like when facing the window versus facing away. It seemed to help her understand. If you choose to use this with children as young as mine, I would suggest being prepared to do things like this. It doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming; just requires more thought on your part versus if your child is older and can work the text and worksheets independently.
Something I thought was a great teaching aid was that there are timelines throughout the entire textbook featuring dates from three categories: major biblical events, famous works of art, and world events. It helps the reader consolidate things in her mind when seeing it presented like this. It’s a concrete addition to a subject that is kind of abstract. It helps give points with which to anchor the information in one’s brain.
While the book is intended to be an intensive study of art history for teens and adults, I can see how it has merit for general history, biblical history, and also for science in some parts. The value of this package (the textbook plus teacher’s guide) is stupendous!
I would recommend The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective to older children, maybe starting in middle school. You know your child’s abilities! I very much look forward to coming back to this when mine are older; it will serve them much better later than if I was to continue using it with them now at their current level of understanding. Either way, the images and topics are appropriate for any age child and there is no need to be wary of the children seeing something they cannot unsee!
The Crew members love this publisher! Click here to read what these ladies have to say.