Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

New Catholic History Text Debuts
Catholic Exchange ^ | July 3, 2003 | Karen Walker

Posted on 07/03/2003 5:07:54 AM PDT by Desdemona


Imagine paying extra money to send your children to a Catholic school and not having History textbooks that include vignettes about saints or other relevant Catholic historical contributions.

The Forty-Year Gap

For the past nearly 40 years, Catholic schools have had to choose between buying secular history textbooks or reproducing old, out-of-date history textbooks previously written for Catholic schools. But now that has changed.

The Catholic Schools Textbook Project is the brainchild of the frustrated headmaster of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, Calif, Michael Van Hecke, who could not find suitable history textbooks for his students. It is the result of Mr. Van Hecke’s desire to respond to the exhortation of the Second Vatican Council to lead students to “knowledge…illumined by Faith” (Gravissimum Educationis, No. 8). He recognized a desperate need for visually beautiful and well-crafted textbooks for Catholic schools, beginning with a History series. And, he wanted these History textbooks to be written in a way that would capture the imagination of students.

A lot has happened in the last 40 years: The ending of the Vietnam War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the explosion of the Internet, two Gulf Wars, the worldwide travels of Pope John Paul II, his apostolic letters and encyclicals, the launching of World Youth Days that have drawn up to four million young people at a time, the effects of 30 years of legalized abortion in the U.S., the saintly example of Mother Teresa, and the canonization of more than 200 new saints worldwide.

These new events, and others, contribute to new challenges for today’s Catholic student. Many of the newly canonized saints also provide strong new role models for children of our modern world. Such contemporary saints include St. Maximilian Kolbe, who resisted the Nazis and who also fully embraced the most advanced technology of his age; St. Edith Stein, a Jewish convert to the Faith; and St. Faustina, the great saint of Divine Mercy.

Two Down and Seven to Go

Endorsed by seven bishops, the new History textbook series now has two — Volumes 5 and 6 — of its projected nine-book series completed. Volume 5 is entitled From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America and recounts the story of North America — the Indian nations, European colonization, the founding and history of the United States up to the beginnings of the twentieth century. Told as a series of engaging and historically accurate stories for young people, this volume includes thumbnail biographies, lives of the saints, maps, illustrations and other supplemental material. Volume 5 is suitable for students in the middle school grades.

Volume 6, All Ye Lands: World Cultures and Geography, has been in schools for a year and is receiving rave reviews. This textbook presents the origins and stories of world peoples and cultures — European, African and Asian — with geography of the world and lives of great men and women from the dawn of civilization to modern times. It includes timelines, maps, charts and illustrations to give depth and context to the stories presented. It is suitable for grades 6-8. Teacher's Manuals for both volumes will be available late summer and will include quizzes, tests, games, tips, descriptions and more.

Last year, Volume 6 was used in Catholic schools across the nation, including Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Michigan, Arizona, Texas, Alaska, Maryland and California. All Ye Lands is a wonderful example of a synthesis of geography and world history designed for a social studies program in a Catholic elementary school,” says Roberta Kenney, a teacher in State College, Penn. “It is a serious book meant to teach without unnecessary distractions. The illustrations are to the point. The information is concise and does not "talk down" to the reader. The chapter review section contains three elements which I find very well done. The final element, "Let's Eat!" makes the social aspect of the chapter fun!

“I think one of the important aspects of this book is the fact that it can be used for more than the teaching of social studies,” continues Mrs. Kenney. “It is so well written that it can provide examples of good construction of sentences, paragraphs and short essays which will be useful to language arts programs at the upper elementary and middle school levels. The "Let's Remember" and "Let's Consider" sections in the chapter review provide many possibilities for written language arts assignments.”

Even the Kids Give Rave Reviews “Personally, I would have to say that Chapter 8 was my favorite chapter,” explained Jim, a seventh grader at St. Augustine Academy. “Why? Because it was filled with stories of men seeking truth. Men such as St. Thomas Aquinas, Emperor Charlemagne and Robin Hood.”

Katie, a seventh grader at the same school responded, “My favorite chapter is Chapter 3, The Mission of Israel. This is my favorite chapter because in it I learned more of Bible history and what it was like during the many events that happen in the Bible. I like how it gives full account of characters, like King David and his son Solomon, and their lives. It also gives me more of the background of some of the stories that my mom used to read me when I was younger, like Samson or the handwriting on the wall. And, I enjoyed the given pictures and maps that helped me visualize the person or place being described.”

Mr. Van Hecke says of the results of Catholic Schools Textbook Project, “I not only now have the pleasure of being able to purchase textbooks that are specifically designed for the Catholic student, I enjoy the opportunity to teach using them myself. The students love the story of history. In student evaluations, one student, Elizabeth, wrote: ‘My favorite chapter was PreHistory: Beginning Man’s Story…It was very interesting and fun to read.’ Imagine prehistory being perceived as “fun” to a middle schooler!”

For more information about the History textbooks, call toll free (866) 458-3332 or look online at

Karen Walker is a prolific writer and Catholic publicist, and owner of California-based Walker & Associates Strategic Communications.

Copyright © 2003 Catholic Exchange All rights reserved.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; History; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: catholiclist

1 posted on 07/03/2003 5:07:54 AM PDT by Desdemona
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: *Catholic_list; father_elijah; nickcarraway; SMEDLEYBUTLER; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; attagirl; ...

Has anyone heard of this project?
2 posted on 07/03/2003 5:08:53 AM PDT by Desdemona
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Desdemona
Great news for us homeschoolers.

There were Anglo-Catholic Paul Johnson's books out there. But they'd probably be a bit much for some high schoolers.

When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school...

3 posted on 07/03/2003 5:23:00 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Desdemona
Now if only the parochial system would use this instead of the public system's books.

We've been using the old Land of Our Lady series from

along with Augustus Caesars World by Genevieve Foster for elementary level. I plan to get a copy of Triumph by HW Crocker III to use along with the Carroll's Catholic history texts for highschool.
4 posted on 07/03/2003 5:40:38 AM PDT by Domestic Church (AMDG...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Desdemona
“Why? Because it was filled with stories of men seeking truth. Men such as St. Thomas Aquinas, Emperor Charlemagne and Robin Hood.”

Robin Hood??!!!

Other than that, the series sounds great; I hadn't heard of it, but it's a wonderful idea. Hard to believe, too, there's a school history text that can actually used as a writing m odel.

5 posted on 07/03/2003 6:04:27 AM PDT by maryz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Desdemona
My youngest daughter had the "benefit" of seventeen years of Catholic education and knew nothing about the saints. I remember the blank look she gave me when I mentioned St. Bernadette of Lourdes. That's when the light began to dawn that the Catholic education she was receiving bore no resemblance to what I had received.
6 posted on 07/03/2003 6:17:06 AM PDT by k omalley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: k omalley
I remember the blank look she gave me when I mentioned St. Bernadette of Lourdes.

That's really sad, and one of the reasons why we're homeschooling.

7 posted on 07/03/2003 6:42:10 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Aquinasfan
If I had to do it over I would probably homeschool. However I would have to pray daily for lots of patience. I never had much when my children were growing up. I would have ended up throwing books at them.
8 posted on 07/03/2003 6:48:22 AM PDT by k omalley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Desdemona
Has anyone heard of this project?

Yes, I saw it advertised last year when I was looking through some stuff for homeschooling. I might get the "All Ye Lands" cause our 8th gr. son will be doing a survey of World History this year. The curriculum concentrates on scientists, explorers and inventions, but I was going to supplement with religious history as well.

I just bought a book for our 10th gr. daughter called "Introduction to Catholicism". It is part of a high school series that I read about on the e-mail I get from Catholic Educators Resource Center. Check the site out HERE She is in her second year of study for Confirmation, and it is a great basic info type of book for kids who may not have gotten a good foundation either in CCD or, unfortunately in many cases, Catholic Schools. It is written for high schoool kids, though, with some fleshing out of the teachings, and it leans HEAVILY on the new Catechism. She knows most of it, but I got it anyway because it looked like it is well written, and it is! I got a second copy for the Youth Minister of our Parish who will be running the Confirmation program. Maybe he'll incorporate some of it into the classes.

I've thought for years that we'd do well just doing something like RCIA for the Confirmandi.

9 posted on 07/03/2003 9:51:55 AM PDT by SuziQ
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Desdemona
Here's a link to that High Schoool textbook series I mentioned before. Didache Series
10 posted on 07/03/2003 9:58:40 AM PDT by SuziQ
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Desdemona
Yes,I have heard of the project and I know who Michael Von Hoecke is and also know many graduates of the private Catholic Academy in the Phoenix area where he was headmaster until two or three years ago.

The graduates of Ville de Marie Academy,that I knew and know,were/are exceptional with regards holiness,knowledge and virtue.They seem to fit and act easily in the temporal world as well as the supernatural.

To me,that is the purpose of Catholic education,teach Catholicism,the deposit of Faith that has been maintained and protected by the Church since Christ established it,and you will produce persons that lead others to Christ and please God.

Given my positive opinions can you doubt that I think the books will be great!!

11 posted on 07/03/2003 10:06:36 AM PDT by saradippity
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson