This was an 8-week Family Course that met for 2 hours weekly. Upcoming Family Courses can be found here: 2015 Courses Along with the class, a book was included. The book is divided into 2 parts with several chapters; Part 1 is an overview of the History of American Government, Part I is a "Small Selection of Jake Jacobs' Ideas on Government." Each chapter is chock full of quotes, opinions and continued reading. We received 2 CD's in addition to the book, one on Common Core and one titled, Who Owns Your Children. All items that we received were of excellent quality. The course is taught by Jake Jacobs, Ph.D. Dr. Jacobs has degrees in history and Biblical Studies. He is passionate about conservative, libertarian values and political viewpoints.
This course met for 2 hours a week on Monday nights and is based on the book, Mother, Should I Trust the Government, by Jake Jacobs, who is also the teacher. It is a lecture and discussion-based course with weekly reading assignments from the book. If you miss a class, there are recordings for you to go back and catch up on what you missed. While there were many recommendations about further reading, movies and resources, there was no further reading, tests or quizzes required. FPE has other 8 week family courses such as the up-coming courses on Critical Thinking and Bible as Culture.
Log-in was easy; we were sent an access code each week, and Mr. Jacobs spent time chatting with both live and on-line students at the beginning of each class period. He has an easy and engaging manner with the students, joking and setting a relaxed tone with the students participating live, in class as well as those participating virtually. He is obviously an experienced presenter and has an easy and engaging manner during class as well, with a broad base of understanding and materials to draw from.
I was confused, however, because there did not appear to be specific or clear objectives for this course other than perpetrating the stance that big government is a terrible idea and that it should not, in fact, be trusted. Our family is fairly involved politically; we discuss politics, government, history and geography as a matter of course in our home, work on campaigns, write letters to government officials and promote causes that we believe in. Our kids live in a fairly rich politicial environment. What we were hoping from this course is that Cub's natural inclincation towards politics would be challenged and honed.
What occurred however, was that the presentation was often so idealogically specific that Cub felt very frustrated. On the few occasions that Cub tried to disagree with a point put forth ("Soldiers behave badly"), he felt that his points were not respected or interacted with appropriately. While this was occurring on the chat board and not coming directly from the Instructor, Mr. Jacobs was not monitering the chat enough to weigh in on the discussion. So, a vulnerable 15 year old was left to defend his beliefs against a chat board full of adults who disagreed with him. While I understand the pros and cons of on-live chat, this is hardly a win-win learning environment for teen-ager. While we are definitely in the small government camp, we do believe in government. While we agree that some soldiers behave badly, we know and love many soldiers that have served their country proudly and well (including Dr. Dh, his brother, father, other family and many personal friends). This course caused Cub to feel defensive about his own experience and political stance, rather than causing him to consider, grow and develop in his beliefs, understanding of various government systems or the positive role of government.
Again, the materials and presentation format were of excellent quality, Mr. Jacobs has a clear and broad understanding of the material he is presenting. I would have liked to see a more definitive syllabus (even for a Family Class) as well as a more balanced approach to a complex subject, especially in an environment where fledgling adults are involved.
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