Over the past eight weeks, Emily has been taking an online class entitled, “Mother, Should I Trust the Government?,” sponsored by FreedomProject Education.
FreedomProject Education offers online classes for students from Kindergarten through high school from traditional core classes to classically-oriented courses such as logic, economics, and Latin. The course Emily has been taking is not one of their regular classes, however. It is a family/teen/adult class intended for enrichment rather than a full credit course. It 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. No other assignments, tests, or grades were given. FreedomProject Education periodically offers these free (donations accepted) 8 week family courses. Starting soon are courses on Critical Thinking and Bible as Culture.
Joining the class was simple. Each week, we received an email with a link to follow to the classroom. We could see the teacher, a chat box, and a Power Point slide on the screen. Dr. Jacobs spent some time chatting with the students and getting to know them, so it was a friendly, rather casual atmosphere. (Emily preferred to just watch and listen rather than participate in the chat, though, so she was pretty much invisible.)
The book, Mother, Should I Trust the Government? is a book that explores the appropriate role of a republican government and the Constitution-defying overreaches of our current bloated U.S. government. Beginning with the Constitutional Convention, Jacobs takes the reader on a sweep through U.S. history to current day events, exploring the intents and conflicts of our founding fathers as they designed a form of government that would be strong enough to hold together, but not powerful enough to infringe on the rights of the individuals or the states. He discusses the federalists and anti-federalists, the causes of the Civil War as it relates to government power and states’ rights, and the explosion of government power through the 20th century. We both enjoyed the book and felt that it was a good counterbalance to the liberal viewpoint that we are bombarded with by the media and most secular texts. I have to admit that reading the book made me feel rather hopeless about the direction our country is taking and the chances of a turn-around happening, but he did include narratives about several individuals that are making a difference in politics despite overwhelming odds.
Although the class covered approximately one chapter a class, the discussion of the first few weeks seemed repetitive and a bit rambling. The repetition was not entirely a bad thing, though. At first, I felt that Emily was in over her head a bit because she hasn’t studied government yet and it has been several years since we’ve covered U.S. history. But because important points were discussed several times, I feel that Emily now has a good grasp of the philosophical differences between liberals, conservatives, and libertarians. She understands the viewpoints of the founding fathers and knows the difference between federalism and anti-federalism. She understands that many of the same differences of opinion about the role of federal government are the same today as they were 200 years ago.
As the course progressed, Dr. Jacobs covered a good deal of U.S. history, especially in how it related to the role of government in individual lives as well as the differing opinions about how much power should be allotted to the federal government as opposed to the state governments. As a southerner, I found Dr. Jacobs assessment of states’ rights during the Civil War very enlightening. I have often heard (and was skeptical of the claim) that secession of southern states was about “state’s rights,” not slavery. Through the use of original source documents, such as the South Carolina and Texas statements of secession and letters from the vice-president of the Confederacy, it was clear that the primary state right that the Confederates were concerned with was the states’ rights to own other human beings. That is why it is so important to include original source documents in any study of history or government!
Two hours was quite a long time for a class and I felt that the material could have been presented as easily in a 1 1/2 hour time period. I would have loved to see more outlined points on the Power Point in order to help Emily in her note taking and to follow the topic more easily. I had her take notes, but she’s not very experienced in doing so, and had some difficulty in picking out the important points rather than smaller details. Other than that, I think what Emily has learned will help her have better perspective as she studies American history next year and government in another year or two.( I will have her re-read Mother, Should I Trust the Government? when she studies U.S government.) We’ve also had some great discussions about both history and current events that were sparked by this class. Overall, we enjoyed the format of this class and will consider taking more FreedomProject Education family classes.