Western Civilization

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Teacher: Derek Owens
Date/Time: Wednesday - 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Recommended Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Department: History & Social Studies
Grade Level: High School (9th-12th)

Course Description:

Western Civilization

In the academic world today, the philosophical foundations of Western Civilization are actively being undermined by radical ideology and progressive identity politics. At the same time, immigrants are pouring into the Western world in unprecedented numbers. It is worth asking why these things are happening. Why is the Western world, its history and its heroes, being actively disparaged? Why at the same time are the world’s immigrants moving almost exclusively to nations in the West?  Much has been said and written about historic sins committed within Western nations. What is it, then, about the West that makes it almost exclusively the desired destination for people from across the globe?

Many people look at Europe and America and there they see prosperity and hope.  They see the possibility of education and healthcare for their families. They see a chance to start their own business, hope for a better standard of living.  They see government based on constitutional law and human rights. They see economic freedom and freedom to worship. The Western nations draw people from across the world precisely because they have provided freedoms and institutions that people and communities desire and need. What is it about the West that has made it successful, prosperous and free?

This course will cover the foundational ideas that undergird Western Civilization. The radical critique currently being applied to specific aspects of the Western world and its heritage serves as an excellent starting point for covering the importance of these very ideas: The Rule of Law; human rights and civil rights; limited government; private property; economic and political freedom; a Christian view of man, morality and virtue; the traditional family.  We will study how these ideas have developed and shaped the culture, governments and institutions of many of the Western nations, and of America in particular.

The War on the West

Today, if a student does choose to attend college, he is likely to find professors and administrators promoting a decidedly negative view of Western civilization. Never has Western culture, its history, and its heroes been as despised and disparaged, from within, as it is today. This is particularly the case in the humanities and social sciences, although radical ideologues are now found in virtually all fields of study. Recent decades have seen progressive, socialist, and anti-Western ideas spread from academia through the media, K-12 education, the corporate world, and the general culture. This course will examine what these ideas are, how they have spread, the fruit that they bear, and, importantly, how to recognize them and how to answer the arguments they pose.

We will also study the history of these ideas. Radical gender ideology, Critical Race Theory, and other variants of Critical Theory on campuses and in the culture today can be traced back to the New Left of the 1960's and thinkers such as Herbert Marcuse, and back further to the intellectuals of the Frankfurt School and to Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci in the early 1900's.  These men drew on the earlier writings of Karl Marx. Marx himself had drunk from the well of Kant and Hegel, who trace their own ideas back to Jean Jacques Rousseau, whose writings helped motivate the historic catastrophe of the French Revolution.  Whittaker Chambers described the radical ideology in his book Witness: "It is not new. It is, in fact, man’s second oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: ‘Ye shall be as gods.’ “ We will see how these ideas have influenced the course of history, and how they have carried a revolutionary impetus, with disastrous results seen in the crimes of Stalin in Russia and the Cultural Revolution in China, and the ways in which these ideas are now at work, sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle, in academia and in the culture in the West.

Tuition: $90 per month for 9 months. 10% off if paid in advance.

Difficulty Level

This course is quite literally a college preparatory course, designed to help prepare students for the ideological challenges they are likely to encounter at colleges and universities today. It is therefore aimed at older students, 11th and 12th graders, although younger high school students are also welcome to enroll and explore these ideas.

Course Content

Homeschool students would count this course as a history credit. It will contain a certain amount of European history, as well as American History and World History, and pertinent content from church history and the history of philosophy. It will also contain discussion of various aspects of the culture war, and how related ideas have played out in recent history.

More information about the course will posted in coming weeks and months at https://derekowens.com