As my children have gotten older and hit the high school years I have found that I am using more online curriculum for homeschooling.Â It is very convenient to be able to get an expert in the field to teach high school course.Â Veritas Press is a curriculum company that has been providing resources for Classical Christian homeschooling for years, and they have started offering their courses in an online, self-paced format.Â I recently had the chance to review the Veritas Press Self-Paced Omnibus I course, which is designed for students ages 12 and up.
At the high school level the idea of classical education is to study the ancient civilizations which did so much to shape our world.Â The Omnibus curriculum uses actual ancient literature and writings, not textbooks.Â It is all encompassing because it covers Ancient World History, Theology, and Ancient Literature as integrated subjects, not as separate disciplines.Â The books studied in this year long Omnibus course are:
- The Code of Hammurabi
- The Odyssey
- The Histories
- Aeschylus I: Oresteian Trilogy
- Plutarch’s Lives
- Sophocles: Thebean Trilogy
- The Last Days of Socrates
- Early History of Rome
- Acts of the Apostles
- The Aeneid
- The Twelve Caesars
- Julius Caesar
Quite an ambitious reading list!
The self-paced course that I reviewed consists of online video lessons.Â After most online lessons the student is given a reading assignment to be completed before the next video lesson.Â The readings are mostly directly from the source material, although at the start of every new book there is an introductory lesson.Â This essay is linked directly in the program so it can be read online.
These essays are also in a huge 599 page Omnibus digital textbook which goes with the program and is available for an additional fee, which I also received.Â The self-paced course costs $295, with the option to add a sibling for $195.Â The Omnibus textbook is not necessary to use the self-paced program, but it can be useful, and costs $75 for a hard copy or $37.50 for the e-book I received. You would also have to get the books to be read during the course, either from Veritas Press or from the library.Â The course is designed for grades 7-9, and could certainly be used by older students.
How We Used Omnibus
My son Robert is 15, and just finished 9th grade, so he is a good age for this curriculum.Â I used this with him because I was interested in seeing how it was set up and what was covered.Â We hooked our computer up to our TV and watch the videos in the living room, and then did the readings.Â Some days there was so much reading we split it up into two days worth, and other days there was no extra reading at all.
We covered two books of the program, Genesis and Gilgamesh during the review period.Â The program is very interactive, with quizzes built right into the videos.Â You definitely need high speed internet for this program because of all the content downloaded.Â The picture on the right shows an example of a quiz from the Gilgamesh unit, where the student had to match up the name of the Egyptian god or goddess with the correct description.
After completing each quiz it is automatically graded by the computer.Â Only the grade from the first time completing the quiz is counted, so although you can re-take a quiz you can’t improve your grade, which encourages taking time to get it right the first time!
The videos are hosted by Bruce Etter, who is a talented speaker.Â He keeps things informal and seems to know how to engage teens without talking down to them.Â There are also lots of other video segments interspersed, so it is not just 30 minutes of listening to one person talk.Â My son and I especially enjoyed the “Man on the Street” segments, where they took the main discussion question of the day and interviewed people walking around town for their perspective.Â The sections that covered art history were also very interesting, and the visuals of the Sistene Chapel were very well done.
Religious Background of Omnibus
The curriculum is written from a Reformed Evangelical Protestant viewpoint, which isn’t my family’s faith background.Â This point of view was easy to pick up in the videos.Â I expected there to be lots of religion in the Bible books covered, but I wasn’t expecting the strong, constant Biblical references even in discussing secular books like Gilgamesh.Â This was not something my son or I liked, and it would keep me from using this curriculum in the future.Â But for someone from this faith background it would probably be a positive for the curriculum!Â Also even though their religious point of view was obvious the videos were very respectful of other faiths and cultures, refreshingly so.Â So it wasn’t that there was anything in the videos that offended me, it just didn’t interest me.
I personally think literature classes at the middle school and especially high school level need to include writing about literature.Â And the optional Omnibus textbook includes many suggestions for thought provoking essay topics, so I’d suggest buying that too and having the student do an essay for at least every second book.Â I liked many things about how the Omnibus is presented and organized.Â For a Reformed Protestant homeschooler looking for an open and go curriculum that will expose their children to classics of ancient literature it is an excellent choice.
Read more reviews of Omnibus and Veritas Press here.