HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Exploring Government
Author: Ray Notgrass
Illustrator: Mary Evelyn Notgrass
Publisher: Notgrass Company, 2008
Related website: http://www.notgrass.com/notgrass/ (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 15 to 18 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Notgrass, Ray. Exploring Government (published in 2008 by Notgrass Company, 370 S. Lowe Ave., Suite A, Cookeville, TN 38501). I do not normally review a lot of curricula at Home School Book Review, but I have known Ray and Charlene Notgrass and their son John, for several years. Ray is a homeschooling father and former minister who now develops and publishes homeschooling curricula. I was not satisfied with what we used for our older son Mark’s senior “social studies” (how I hate that term), so for Jeremy’s senior year, we purchased some things from Notgrass. Exploring Government is intended as a one-semester high school course that provides a half-year credit in government. The 75 lessons are grouped into fifteen units, which fall into four main parts.
Part 1 covers some background material, showing the roots of our government in Biblical, Western, and American History. Part 2 deals with the U. S. Constitution and what it sets forth regarding Congress, the Executive, the bureaucracy, and the judiciary, along with the amendments. Part 3 discusses state and local governments, as well as taxing and spending. And Part 4 contains some issues facing American government today. Each of the fifteen units is intended to be studied for one week. What the student is to do each day and each week is clearly outlined. Everything is presented from both a Biblical and a constitutionalist perspective.
The purpose is to educate, to inspire, and sometimes to warn the student concerning the governments of the United States, the individual states, and their local communities in order that he or she might be better equipped to remain prayerful, thoughtful, and involved with regard to our government. There is an accompanying book, We Hold These Truths, a collection of historic documents, essays, and speeches in American government, plus a quiz and test booklet and an answer key. We found it very useful. On the one hand, it is a rather intensive course that will require students to study hard, but on the other hand it is quite simple in that it does not demand a lot of teacher preparation.